Blazers 2012 Draft Recap – Portland Finds PG of the Future
The 2012 NBA Draft has come to a close, with the Portland Trail Blazers holding on to their No. 6 and No. 11 picks and selecting Damian Lillard (PG Weber State) and Meyers Leonard (C Illinois) respectively. Rumors and speculations floated about the Blazers possibly being in talks with the Houston Rockets in trading down, or possibly trading up with Cleveland. Portland stayed put, and believes it has now finally found its point guard of the future.
The 2012 NBA Draft was the first time in Portland’s history of two lottery picks in one draft. Newly appointed GM Neil Oshney waited no time in setting in place a plan for rebuilding.
“With the depth of players available, this was one of the more intriguing drafts that I’ve been a part of,” said owner Paul Allen. “I thought it was a very good night for the team and our fans. We got the guys we wanted. We still have work to do, but tonight was an important step forward.”
After Lillard with the No. 6 pick, Portland took the 7’1” C Meyers Leonard out of Illinois with the No. 11 overall pick, SG Will Barton out of Memphis with the No. 40 pick and Kansas PG Tyshawn Taylor. Portland, as a whole, filled both glaring needs in finding a solution at point guard and center, each addressed early on. From here we take a look at each pick.
The 21-year old Lillard, twice Big Sky Conference POY in three seasons, averaged 24.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 4.o APG in his junior season with the Wildcats.
Lillard impressed scouts, and Blazers’ management in the offseason with an impressive workout. And as the adage goes, “you only have to get one team to fall for you.” Portland appears to have their man for the future.
“I wanted to see what happened,” Lillard said about the anticipation of where he would land. “I tried not to have expectations because I didn’t want to be disappointed.”
With the struggles at the point guard position for the Blazers over the past season, there is little doubt that Lillard will be called upon early for contribution.
“Damian Lillard was brought here to be our starting point guard,” Olshey said in an interview after the draft. “He might not be that in camp, but we selected him to be the starting point guard.”
Portland will look to dish current PG Raymond Felton in the offseason. It’s time for the Blazers to move forward.
Let’s just hope that Portland has better luck with this center than their last lottery big man. Moving on from the Greg Oden debacle, the Blazers have a solid big man that will come in and contribute.
“Coming in I’m just going to work as hard as I can and improve myself,” Leonard said.
Working hard and trying to earn extra reps is probably the most Blazers fans should be expecting. With big men, early development is crucial. To expect Leonard to put up starting numbers would be unfair and ludicrous.
Portland got the No. 11 pick from New Jersey for Gerald Wallace, but that doesn’t mean that the Blazers are expecting Leonard to put up Wallace-like numbers.
“When you get a big guy with a motor and a skillset like that, you’ve got something special,” Olshey said.
Olshey, and whoever is in charge of coaching the Blazers next season, will slow-play Leonard’s time on the court.
Portland may have gotten a steal in the Memphis SG. As a freshman, Barton posted 12.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG and 2.8 APG for the Tigers. Last season, Barton increased his productivity in year two with 18.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.9 APG.
That kind of productivity increase is a great sign. But, second round draft picks are almost certainly going to be viewed as developmental prospects. Time will tell if Barton can be a consistent contributor in the pros.
Taylor was traded to the Nets, for cash consideration, after the Blazers selected him with the No. 41 pick. Taylor averaged 16.6 PPG, 4.8 APG, and 2.3 RPG as a senior with the Kansas Jayhawks.
With Portland’s plethora of point guards, the dishing of Taylor will have no negative impact on the organization. The last thing the Blazers needed was another mediocre guard.