NBA Draft

Oregon Adds Israeli Sorkin to Roster

The Oregon Ducks have added Roman Sorkin, a 6’9, 225-pound power forward/center from Israel to their roster. Sorkin has enrolled at the university and is eligible to play immediately.

NetScouts Basketball scouted Sorkin at the U18 European “B” Championships last summer in Bulgaria. Sorkin was impressive in his nine games there averaging 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds. He was the fifth leading rebounder and fourth leading shot blocker (1.4 pg) at the event. Sorkin pulled down a event-high 24 rebounds in a contest against Estonia.

He has a nice touch on a mid-range shot and is a solid free throw shooter for a big (26-of-32, 81.3% at the U18’s). He could ultimately be a stretch-4 at the next level, according to Amir Uzi, his youth team coach in Israel. Based on his skill level he would have been a Top-100 level recruit had he been playing in the USA.

Sorkin brings much needed size to an Oregon team that has been over-achieving thus far this season. Since he’s just starting to practice with the team it will probably be some time before he sees any significant court minutes, However, depending on how 6’10 Michael Chandler progresses, Sorkin may be seen sooner rather than later. He should battle for a starting spot as soon as next season.

Sorkin’s YouTube highlight clip can be viewed here:

Sorkin’s arrival in Eugene coincides with a visit from Arizona on Thursday night. The Wildcats, another subscriber to our scouting service, has 7-foot freshman Serbian center Dusan Ristic on their roster. Ristic has been backing up fellow 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski and has shown good potential in his limited minutes. He scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds in 11 minutes of action in Arizona’s win over Arizona State on Sunday. Ristic should start at center for the Wildcats next season before likely heading to the NBA.

Carl Berman is Managing Partner of NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.

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Brooks Leads Oregon Ducks to Upset of No. 25 Illinois

DucksIll1Chicago, IL—The Oregon Ducks upset the 25th ranked Illinois Fighting Illini 77-70 at the United Center.

The Ducks, who were down by 13 points with just over four minutes to play in the first half, became the aggressor and used a 13-4 run to cut the halftime deficit to four. The second half saw each team battle back and forth for the lead until the Ducks went on a late 7-0 run late in the game that proved too much for the Illini to overcome. Oregon finished the game with 40 points in the paint, which for a team who doesn’t start a player over 6’7” is a very impressive feat. The victory is the first over Top-25 competition for the Ducks on the year.

With Oregon’s senior star Joseph Young being brought off the bench for violating a team rule, 6’6”  freshman Dillon Brooks led the way with a career game, scoring 24 points and adding in five rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots. Young is a smart, athletic, and versatile forward with a smooth stroke. He doesn’t try force the action and consistently is in good positioning in regards to spacing and rebounding. Overall, Brooks is a smart, fundamentally sound player that every team values.DucksIll3

Coming off the bench for the first time in 42 games for the Ducks, preseason Wooden award nominee Young, still had an impressive impact on the game finishing with 15 points, four rebounds and five assists.  He controlled the game from the moment he stepped on the floor, adding another dimension to the Ducks offense. He’s a creator capable of making plays on his own or for his teammates. Young can also shoot the ball with ease and has a great release going 5-for-12 tonight and 2-for-4 from the 3 point line. Going 3-for-3 from the free throw line tonight Young now is shooting an amazing 95 percent on the year, ranking him fifth in the nation.

While the Illini failed come away with the victory, fans have to be excited about the career game from senior guard Rayvonte Rice. Rice displayed his great shooting ability going 9-for-16 from the field, 5-for-7 from the 3-point line, scoring a season high 29 points. The Ducks often times were playing a 2-3 zone and Rice continuously made them pay from the 3-point line. Rice is a scoring machine; he has a good first step burst and a soft touch around the basket making him a very difficult match up.

DucksIll4The Illini will have a chance to get things back on track Wednesday at home vs. Hampton before a huge rivalry game next Saturday vs. 16th ranked Missouri in St. Louis. Meanwhile Oregon gets a break from power conference competition until Pac-12 play. The Ducks will host Cal State Northridge on Wednesday.

Nick Hinojosa is a Correspondent and Scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.

Any international players interested in coming to the USA to play in college, prep school or high school can contact us here. We are looking for interns and sales associates. If you’re interested contact us and forward your resume.

Oregon Salutes Greg Ballard, Kamikaze Kids

Greg Ballard, small forward for the mid-1970’s Oregon basketball squad dubbed by journalists as the “Kamikaze Kids,” was among the most talented basketball players to ever grace the hardwoods of McArthur Court. Today, Ballard...

Will Former Duck Mike Moser Make an NBA Roster This Season?

Former Oregon Ducks basketball player Mike Moser continued his unconventional pursuit of becoming an NBA player on Saturday when he scored 17 points to go along with three assists, three rebounds and three steals for the Boston Celtics summer league team. His 17 points were second only to teammate Kelly Olynyk and he outplayed two lottery picks: Boston Celtics point guard Marcus Smart and Miami Heat point guard Shabazz Napier.

Moser playing his first summer league game for the Boston Celtics

Moser playing his first summer league game for the Celtics.

Moser’s performance came after he went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft, although he was able to agree to terms to play with the Celtics summer league team less than 24 hours after the draft concluded. Boston becomes the latest stopping-off place  and is a continuation of a basketball career that has seen Moser, a former highly-touted recruit coming out of Portland’s Grant High School, move around quite a bit.

Following an unsuccessful freshman year at UCLA, Moser transferred to UNLV and played two seasons in Las Vegas after being forced to sit out a year because of an NCAA transfer rule. With one year of collegiate eligibility remaining, Moser returned to his native state to play his final year for Dana Altman’s Oregon Ducks. The rest is history. The Ducks earned their second consecutive NCAA tournament bid while Moser led the team in rebounding and finished second in scoring, blocked shots and steals.

Despite the great season Moser put together, though, it wasn’t good enough in the minds of NBA teams to use one of their picks on him. Moser was never projected as anything more than a second round pick in this draft, so he likely wouldn’t have received a guaranteed roster spot had he been drafted. But the question still remains: Will Moser be able to make an NBA roster this year?

It’s far too early to make any definitive conclusions through one summer league game. Adding to that point, gauging summer league performances is often considered an uncertainty in the sense that the overall level of competition is inferior to that of a typical NBA game. But Moser possesses a versatile quality that could make several teams intrigued enough to sign him: the ability to play the “stretch four.”

Moser's rebounding ability is one of several skills that makes him an intriguing "stretch four"

Moser’s rebounding ability is one of his many skills that makes him an intriguing “stretch four.”

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the term, the stretch four in basketball differs from a traditional power forward, or “four,” mainly on the offensive end. Stretch fours have power forward size, but they also typically have skills that traditionally smaller players more often possess including shooting, ball-handling and passing. Moser fits this mold perfectly.

Moser and fellow Portland prep star Terrence Jones often drew comparisons to each other throughout their high school careers; both were around 6 feet, 8 inches tall, both led their teams to state championships and most importantly, both had the skills to play the stretch four.

I attended Grant High and was a freshman when Moser was a senior and will always remember when Moser and Jones, who was a junior at Jefferson at the the time, squared off on Grant’s home court in the biggest Portland prep basketball game of the 2008-09 regular season.

Grant held the lead for much of that late-January evening, yet Jones almost singlehandedly kept Jefferson in contention as he scored 36 points. But it was Moser that made the big plays in the clutch, including a three-pointer to give Grant the lead for good, followed with a charge he took against Jones, to clinch the 70-67 win. Jones would go on to draw more interest from colleges than Moser, but that night Moser showed that he could play to Jones’ level.

Jones is now a starter for the Houston Rockets, playing the stretch four in a lineup that includes NBA stars Dwight Howard and James Harden, while Moser is fighting for a roster spot.

As time has passed, there is little doubt that Moser is less polished than NBA stretch four players such as Jones. Moser is far from a shoe-in for an NBA roster spot, but if he continues to showcase his versatile game that Ducks fans know he’s capable of and improve on it this summer, there’s no reason to believe Moser can’t make it in the NBA this season.

Top Photo by Kevin Cline

Former Duck Fred Jones to be inducted into Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Hall of Honor

Former Oregon standout Fred Jones will be inducted into the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Hall of Honor. Jones was the captain of the Ducks team that won the 2010 Pac-10 championship and advanced to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament.

Jones is remembered fondly for his flashy dunks during his time at Oregon and he’s tied for seventh all-time in total points scored. Jones also put together the third-highest scoring season in Oregon history with 650 during the 2001-02 season. Currently, Jones ranks in the top 10 in several statistical categories including assists (seventh), steals (fifth), blocked shots (T-fifth), field goals (10th) and free throws (seventh).

The Barlow High alum was a 2002 All-Pac-10 selection and was named team MVP for the 2001-02 season. He was a first round draft pick of the Indiana Pacers and played eight seasons in the NBA, highlighted by the 2004-05 season in which he averaged a career high 10.6 points per game and shot 85 percent from the free throw line.

Jones became the only Oregon player to win an NBA Slam Dunk Contest when he won in 2004 as a member of the Indiana Pacers. Following his NBA career, Jones played two seasons professionally overseas (Italy, China).

Jones and 11 other inductees will be honored March 14 during the Pac-12 Tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

Follow Madison Guernsey on Twitter @guernseymd

Mike Moser May Not Be Selected in the NBA Draft

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College players may not get paid, but dollar signs are definitely on the line for Mike Moser.

During his sophomore season, Moser led a surprise UNLV team to a 24-9 record and a sixth seed in the NCAA tournament while averaging 14 points and 10.5 rebounds.  After the season, many draft experts predicted him to be a first round pick. However, he opted to play another year for the runnin rebels.

After a year of injury problems and playing with a future number one pick who happened to also be a stretch four, Moser fell of the NBA radar.

Last Spring, Moser considered making the leap to the NBA, but held back likely because he either would’ve been a late second round pick or not drafted at all.

At Oregon, Moser has had the opportunity to prove that he is a desirable NBA prospect once more.

Mike Moser trying to get around Stefan Nastic Photo - Dave Peaks
Mike Moser trying to get around Stefan Nastic
Photo – Dave Peaks

This season, Moser has failed to improve upon his play sophomore year. While he has proven to be a more handy outside shooter, his rebounding rate has declined exponentially. Despite playing for a team with no one else to carry the load on the boards, Moser is averaging three less rebounds per 40 minutes than he did as a sophomore. Plus he is averaging .9 less steals and .7 less assists per game.

But most importantly, he hasn’t proven to scouts that he wouldn’t be a defensive liability guarding bigger and stronger power forwards in the NBA. Moser has not been much better than the rest of his defensively challenged teammates this year. He’s consistently played average on ball defense while not protecting the rim effectively. Moser had 3.1 defensive win shares his first year at UNLV. This year, he’s just .8.

According to Draftexpress.com, Moser is the 31st ranked senior in the 2014 NBA Draft class. In 2013, 18 seniors were selected in the draft.

Suffice it to say, the one time potential first round pick finds himself on the outside looking in.

Moser may end up as a precautionary tale for all highly touted underclassmen, but if he can show that he can really get after it defensively and improve his rebounding, who knows, maybe David Stern, or more realistically, Adam Silver will call his name in June.

 

The NBA Draft Has Not Been Kind to the Blazers Over the Years

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Last year I wrote a WDTWG column chronicling the bad luck that has befallen the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA Draft.  With the 2013 version happening today and since I now have a weekly Blazers column, I thought I’d revisit that column from last July here.

Portland got the steal of the draft last year in point guard Damian Lillard and they picked up a promising young center in Meyers Leonard as well.  Portland knows what they have in Lillard.  He’s the franchise, the building-block, the future all star.  Who knows what Leonard will turn out to be.  He has incredible athleticism and superior jump-shooting ability for a big man, but he needs A LOT of work on defense, rebounding and just knowing where to be on the floor.  It will probably take a few years before the organization determines whether or not Leonard was a good pick but he appears to be on the right track.

NBA Draft - Jerry Lai:USA Today Sports
NBA Draft | (Jerry Lai/USA Today Sports

The Trail Blazers have the 10th pick in this year’s draft and it remains to be seen whether or not they will keep the pick or trade it to obtain a mixture of players and future draft picks.  Whatever they decide to do, there’s no guarantee the player they take will go on to have a productive career.  This draft is considered the worst in 13 years, so the likelihood that they miss out on a future Hall-of-Famer is pretty slim.

But they’ve managed to whiff on a number of picks over the years and because I apparently like to revisit dark days in Blazer history, here’s a look-back at some of their selections.

Every NBA team has their fair share of “my bad” picks, but the Trail Blazers have a long history of making “Wow, could have won a lot of championships with that guy, instead took that guy picks.”

It dates all the way back to 1972 when Portland selected LaRue Martin with the number one pick.  Martin would play four seasons in his career (all with Portland) averaging a whopping 5.3 points per game.  At the ripe old age of 25, Martin decided to hang it up.

The two players Portland passed up to take Martin: future Hall-of-Famer and scoring machine Bob McAdoo who went second, and ABA/NBA legend and also future Hall-of-Famer Julius Erving who was selected at number 12.

Maurice Lucas - portlandmercury.com
Maurice Lucas | (portlandmercury.com)

In 1976, Portland again had the opportunity to snatch up not one, but two future Hall-of-Famers and again failed.  Instead of taking Adrian Dantley at five, Portland selected some white dude named Wally Walker who would play 75 games over two seasons for Portland.  Dantley would play in six All Star games and score more than 23,000 points in his career. Oooops!!!

That same draft Portland took two of the three best players in the disbanded ABA Dispersal Draft: Moses Malone and Maurice Lucas.  They kept Lucas, who would go on to have a solid NBA career with Portland and help lead them to their only NBA title in 1977.

But the better of the two players, Moses Malone, would be dealt to the Buffalo Braves.  Malone was a three-time league MVP and twelve-time NBA All Star.  Imagine Portland having Malone, Dantley, Lucas and Bill Walton on the same team.  Pretty safe to assume they would have won multiple titles with that group.

In 1978 Portland again had the number one pick.  (Ah the good old days when you could win a championship and the following year get the top pick in the draft).  The Trail Blazers selected Mychal Thompson with their pick. Thompson would go on to have a solid career with Portland averaging around 17 points-per-game and shoot 50%.  But when you’re selected first, your career should be better than “solid.”  A guy they could have selected that year, someone named Larry Bird. Ouch!!

Now we fast forward to 1984. You knew it was coming.  That fateful year the Blazers made not only their worst pick in franchise history, but really the worst draft decision in NBA history.   At number two Portland selected Kentucky Center Sam Bowie.  With pick number three, Chicago drafted some guy named Michael Jordan.

The excuse for not taking Jordan was that Portland needed a big man.  They had already taken Clyde Drexler the year before and didn’t need another scoring guard.  You already know Jordan’s resume.  Bowie would go on to play five seasons with Portland.  The last three years he would play a grand total of 25 games or 10 percent of Portland’s total games over a three year period.  Here’s a thought, don’t draft a walking chandelier who missed two full seasons of college due to injuries!

Arvydas Sabonis
Arvydas Sabonis | (euroleagueadventures.com)

So up to this point Portland either picked the right guy and traded him (Malone) or picked the wrong guy (Martin, Walker, Thompson, Bowie) and saw the better guy (Dantley, Bird, Jordan) go on to have great careers.  In 1986 Portland again picked the right guy, but they didn’t see him for a decade.

Arvydas Sabonis was selected in the first round by Portland.  Unable to come over to the states because he was still under contract with the Soviets, Sabonis would lead his Olympic team to the 1988 gold medal at the age of 23.  Once Russia fragmented in 1989 and Sabonis was allowed to leave the country, he shockingly signed with Spain instead of joining the Blazers.

Sabonis could do it all: run, jump, shoot from anywhere and pass as well as any big man who ever played the game.  By the time he arrived in Portland in 1995, Sabonis was 31.  His knee and foot injuries over the years sapped his quickness.  The young spry immortal was replaced by a lumbering caveman who could only lightly jog up and down the court.

Sabonis did play a key role on the 2000 Blazer team that got to the Western Conference Finals, but imagine if he had come over in the late ’80s.  Those entertaining, high-scoring Blazer teams featuring Drexler, Terry Porter, Jerome Kersey and Buck Williams made it to the finals in ’90 and ’92 with Kevin Duckworth at center.  Replace Duck with one of the greatest centers of that era and those finals outcomes could have gone a little differently.

From ’86 to ’06, Portland had mostly mediocre drafts but it was because they were always making the playoffs and therefore never had a high draft pick.  They did get Cliff Robinson in the second round in ’89 but their first round picks have consisted of players like James Robinson, Shawn Respert, Chris Anstey and Erick Barkley.

They did draft Jermaine O’Neal right out of high school in ’96.  But he sat on the bench for four years and was eventually traded for veteran Dale Davis.  O’Neal went on to make six straight All Star games for the Indiana Pacers.

In 2005, Portland had the third pick in the draft and decided to trade down and obtained the sixth pick.  If they had kept the third pick, they could have taken either Deron Williams or Chris Paul.  Instead they took high schooler Martell Webster.  In five season with the Blazers, Webster showed flashes of great ability, but he could never consistently put it together.  Williams and Paul on the other hand have been arguably the two best point guards in the NBA over that time period.

The ’06 draft was the one year Portland did everything right.  They obtained the two best players in that year’s draft (LaMarcus Aldrige and Brandon Roy) and they got both of them in draft day trades.  Until knee injuries ended his career, Roy was the most talented player Portland had since Clyde Drexler.  Aldridge is currently Portland’s best player and has been named to two consecutive All Star games.

Centers
Sam Bowie / Greg Oden (Scott Cunningham / Jonathan Ferrey)

The 2007 draft will unfortunately rank up there with the ’84 draft as one of Portland’s worst.  Instead of taking three-time scoring champion and recent NBA Finals participant Kevin Durant, the Blazers took Greg Oden.  Oden hasn’t stepped foot on an NBA court since December of 2009 and won’t again until the 2013-14 season.  He played 82 games in five seasons for Portland.  Durant has missed only 31 games in six years for the Thunder.

So as you can see, Portland has made a few bad decisions in the draft.  Of course every NBA team can say the same thing, but Portland’s in particular have been highly noted.  With every pick you make, there’s going to be what-ifs.

Like in ’84 when they drafted Bowie out of necessity, they did the same last year in filling holes at point guard and center.  Lillard was the right pick and we’ll have to wait and see with Leonard.  Tonight we’ll know whether or not Portland kept the pick and who they selected.  They’ll get a grade from draft experts, but you really won’t know if that particular player was “the right pick” for a few years.  With the current state of the organization, Portland can’t afford to make many more wrong decisions.

NBA Trade Rumors Include Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge

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This week, Bill Simmons — aka “The Sports Guy” — recorded two of his B.S. Report podcasts with basketball writers Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst.  At this time of year, you’d expect their focus to be entirely on the NBA playoffs.  But this past week also saw the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery aka “The Ping Pong Balls Show.”

draft_lottery-590x296
NBA Draft Lottery | (www.wizofawes.com)

Once again the Cleveland Cavaliers won the lottery (can I borrow Dan Gilbert’s son and go buy a lottery ticket?) and one of the topics of discussion between Simmons and the writers was whether or not Cleveland should keep the pick.  Windhorst reported that the Cavaliers are interested in trading the No. 1 pick and that Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge has been mentioned as a possible trade prospect for said pick.

During their discussion, Simmons proposed a deal that would send Aldridge to Cleveland in exchange for Tristan Thompson, the No. 1 and No. 19 pick.  “I think I would do that if I’m Portland,” said Simmons.

Here’s why I wouldn’t:

NBA draft prospects for the most part are unknown quantities.  With the exception of guys like Lebron, Durant and Carmelo, the assumption that a highly-touted player out of high school or college will automatically carry that talent and production over to the NBA is a crap shoot at best.

Why do All-Star level players like Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson and Stephen Curry get selected after Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet?  Can it be easily defined by simply having the talent to compete consistently at the next level?  In 2005, high school star Martell Webster wowed the Blazer organization in his pre-draft workout.  They ended up choosing him over Chris Paul and Deron Williams.  You know the rest.

Or is it a matter of being in the right system or situation?  If James Harden was taken No. 4 by Sacramento (the place where young careers go to die) instead of No. 3 by Oklahoma City, is he the same player today?

Jan. 22, 2013; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Nerlens Noel (3) dunks the ball over Alabama Crimson Tide center Moussa Gueye (14) during the first half at Coleman Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports
Nerlens Noel | (US Presswire)

There’s also the issue of what’s going on between the ears.  A player can have all the talent in the world, but if he doesn’t have the work ethic or mental fortitude (see Michael Beasley) to succeed, than an NBA franchise has just set themselves back another year in development.

That brings us to this year’s draft.  Considered by many analysts to be one of the weakest in years, news that Cleveland is willing to trade the No. 1 pick just days after winning the lottery should tell you all you need to know about the 2013 draft.  The majority of mock drafts have the Cavaliers selecting Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel with the first pick.  He’s a 6-11 big man whose strengths are shot blocking, rebounding and athleticism.  That’s exactly what Portland needs in the middle.  Why not at least consider the deal?

But Noel also weighs just a shade over 200 pounds and oh yeah, he’s coming off an ACL tear he sustained early in his first year of college.  Does that sound enticing Blazer fans?  If there’s one franchise at this point that wouldn’t touch a center with a history of injuries it’s the Portland Trail Blazers.

What about Thompson, the NBA player Simmons mentioned as part of the deal?  He’s a former No. 4 overall pick just two years into his career and Cleveland is already looking to include him in potential deals.  Despite improvements on the offensive end and an able double-double guy, Thompson just hasn’t developed as quickly as they would have liked.

So Portland would be trading their best player, in the prime of his career, for two first-round picks in a bad draft and a former high pick who hasn’t quite lived up to his potential yet.  Doesn’t really sound like it makes sense right?

The one wild card in all of this however is what Aldridge’s mindset is.  He has two years left on a contract that isn’t ridiculous and he’s still in his twenties, but he’s seven years into his career and he’s never been out of the first round of the playoffs.  He’s clearly not comfortable being the number one option and if he produces the same numbers ( 21 points, 8 rebounds) for the next two years, he will demand another big contract.  Whether that’s in Portland or not remains to be seen.

Aldridge and Batum-Steve Dykes-US Presswire
LaMarcus Aldridge | (Steve Dykes-US Presswire)

Will the Blazers be competitive again when that time arrives?  They have their point guard of the future in Damian Lillard and they’ve committed to Nicolas Batum for a number of years, but it’s the rest of the team that is in question.  Aldridge emphasized in his closing interview to the media this year that he wants to win now so the likelihood that Portland trades out of this year’s draft is becoming more and more feasible.

Aldridge never wanted to be “the guy” in Portland.  He was supposed to be the third wheel behind Brandon Roy and Greg Oden.  When that didn’t work out, he emerged as the reluctant star.  His improvement in that time has been tremendous and he’s been rewarded with two All-Star selections.

If the organization is considering trading Aldridge then it needs to happen next year.  Portland has no chance of getting free agents like Dwight Howard or Chris Paul this year and with Aldridge’s contract expiring next summer, they can be in a better position to obtain multiple players that can contribute to the team.

Another reason to wait until next year is to see how quickly Lillard develops.  After an acclaimed rookie season, Lillard is already on the verge of becoming the number one option in Portland.  If he can take his game to the next level (kind of like what Stephen Curry did this year) than Aldridge can settle nicely into being the number two guy. It’s probably what he wanted all along.

Portland Should Target Veterans Rather Than Rookies

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It was an eventful week for the Portland Trail Blazers as news both expected (Draft Lottery Selection) and unexpected (Damian Lillard’s entourage in alleged altercation) took place.  But if you want more information on those stories, check out Corey’s articles.  Today’s Blazers’ Corner focuses on what Portland might do in the offseason as it relates to the draft and free agents.

It was predicted that Portland would land the number 10 pick in this year’s NBA Draft Lottery and that’s exactly what happened.  Now that the franchise knows for sure where they will be selecting in the June 27 draft, the question is will they keep it, trade down or up, or trade out?

Neil Olshey-Adam Wickham Portland Tribune
Neil Olshey | (Adam Wickham / Portland Tribune

Early indication is they are looking to get out of this year’s draft as it has been often cited as one of the weakest in recent memory.  With young building blocks already in place (Lillard, Aldridge, Batum), why draft another young prospect that will take time to develop?  Portland needs bodies.  More specifically, they need bodies with experience and I’m not talking Jared Jeffries experience.

The team needs a lot (center, backup point guard, shooters, etc…) and thanks to the guys over at hoopsworld.com I was able to take a look at the list of 2013 free agents.  Based solely on that list, here’s a few names I think general manager Neil Olshey and the organization should consider going after.  The names won’t blow you away, but they do provide production at a relatively affordable price.

O.J. Mayo

Why waste time looking for a backup point guard, shooters and productive bench players when you can find the majority of those needs in one guy.  Mayo has a player option for $4,200,900 next year and considering the season he just had in Dallas, Mayo will no doubt be looking for a raise.

He’s also a guy who doesn’t have a problem coming off the bench despite his talent.  He was the sixth man in Memphis for two seasons so whether he or Wesley Matthews starts, there shouldn’t be a problem there.

Mayo is a big-time scorer who can create his own shot as well as move without the ball to get open.  He can play either guard position and he’s an effective 3-point shooter.  He does have a propensity to turn the ball over late in games, but in Portland he wouldn’t have to worry about that since they have Lillard.

Despite being immensely talented, Mayo may be affordable for the Blazers as well.  He cooled off last season after a terrific start so the price tag for him won’t be as high as some imagine.  Portland needs all the help they can get and having another talented wing player who can create is exactly what the team needs off the bench.

Jarrett Jack

Jarrett Jack-Stephen Dunn Getty Images
Jarrett Jack | (Stephen Dunn)

With the looming increase in the luxury tax next season, players coming off of outstanding seasons will not be seeing the lucrative contracts offered in the past.  One example of this will be former Blazer Jarrett Jack.

Arguably the best player off the bench this season, Jack was instrumental in Golden State making the playoffs and pushing San Antonio to six games in the second round.  Coach Mark Jackson often went with Jack in key situations throughout the season and his ability to shoot the mid-range jumper, attack the basket and penetrate for open shooters was vital for the Warriors.

Portland may not have the shooters that Golden State has, but if Batum and Matthews see enough open looks, they’re both capable of shooting over 40 percent from long range.  Jack would certainly help create more open looks.

Robin Lopez

He might not be as talented as his brother Brook, but Robin Lopez showed that given the minutes, he can provide high energy, shot-blocking and hustle.

Anthony Davis missed time this season due to injury and as a result, Lopez was New Orleans’ starting center for the majority of the season.  A legitimate 7-footer, Lopez can provide the size Portland lacked with J.J. Hickson at center.  Appearing in all 82 games, the former first-round pick doubled his scoring output and produced career highs in rebounding, block shots and free throw percentage.

He would need to increase his rebounding efficiency however.  At 26 minutes a game, Lopez averaged under six rebounds per game.  But if he was in Portland, they would undoubtedly split his minutes with Meyers Leonard at the five position.  So the team wouldn’t be getting a game-changing center, but at least a guy who can fill up space in the paint.

Samuel Dalembert

Samuel Dalembert-Mike McGinnis Getty Images
Samuel Dalembert | (Mike McGinnis)

Dalembert kind of got lost in the shuffle in Milwaukee.  With the emergence of Larry Sanders and the development of John Henson, Dalembert became an afterthought and also a little disgruntled with the Bucks.  But the Blazers need a defensive-minded big man and judging by how well Dalembert has played Aldridge over the years, it might be in Portland’s best interest to grab him in order to avoid seeing him on another team.

At 32, Dalembert is a veteran center who has been both durable and effecient throughout his career.  His career averages of 8 points, 8 rebounds and nearly 2 blocks per game in 25 minutes a night might not look spectacular, but it does look affordable and a nice short-term solution for the Blazers.

Mike Dunleavy

Speaking of the Milwaukee Bucks, Dunleavy is another veteran player who would provide much-needed shooting and scoring punch off the bench.  A double-digit scorer for his entire career, Dunleavy would give the Blazers 10+ points, 4 rebounds and nearly 40 percent shooting from long distance.

The former Portland resident wouldn’t help much on the defensive end (particularly on the perimeter), but Dunleavy’s size allows him to play multiple positions so the team could put him on the other team’s worst offensive player.

The Blazers aren’t getting big-name free agents like Chris Paul or Dwight Howard.  They don’t have the money or the desirable location for that.  But they do have a young team that isn’t far from becoming a playoff contender again.  For two or three veteran players looking for a team, that has to be enticing.

NBA Draft Combine Examination, Blazers Eyeing Indiana’s Victor Oladipo?

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The 2013 NBA Draft Combine (NBA.com)
The 2013 NBA Draft Combine
(NBA.com)

The NBA draft combine came and went faster than a John Wall fast break, but NBA teams like the Portland Trail Blazers were able to gain some valuable information before making multiple picks in the first week of summer at the NBA Draft.

The Blazers interviewed 18 potential draftees including guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Shabazz Muhammed and Michael Carter Williams.

Despite the perception that this draft class is below average, the numbers posted at the combine were exceptional, especially among guards. Former Hurricane Shane Larkin posted an astounding max vertical leap of 44 inches, which is 1.5 inches away from the highest ever recorded. In fact, 10 players recorded a max vertical of over 40 inches. Former Wolverine Tim Hardaway Jr. was also impressive, making 19/25 three-point shots and measuring in at over 6’6″ inches tall.

Indiana big man Cody Zeller broke the record for highest standing vertical among players 6’9″
or taller at 35.5 inches. Despite being a combo forward, CJ Leslie had the fastest lane agility time and second fastest ¾ court sprint of anyone at the combine. Finally, Rudy Golbert proved to be huge, almost reaching 10 feet on standing reach.

Carter Williams was also impressive posting a 41 inch vert. and measuring in at 6’5″ inches, which is crazy tall for a point guard.

Carter Williams told The Oregonian how he responded to the Blazers question about potentially playing off the bench do to Damian Lillards strangle hold over the starting point guard spot.

[gn_quote style=”1″]”I think I’m a pretty smart player, so I can adapt,” Carter Williams said. “And on the defensive end, I can guard the two because of my size. I mean, just because you are a two-guard doesn’t mean you can’t make plays. I think I’m a natural at it.”[/gn_quote]

After already hurting his draft stock when it was revealed that he is actually one year older than previously thought, Muhammed didn’t help himself at the combine, shooting an unimpressive 36% during shooting drills and measuring in at shorter than 6’5” inches tall. Caldwell-Pope had a ho-hum showing at the combine maxing out at a an average 34 inch vertical but posting the fastest time in the ¾ quarter sprint among shooting guards.

Indiana's Victor Oladipo dunks in a loss  to Ohio State. (Associated Press)
Indiana’s Victor Oladipo dunks in a loss to Ohio State late in the season.
(Associated Press)

According to Victor Oladipo himself, the Blazers might be looking to move up to pick the talented Indiana guard. Oladip told CSNNW.com, “I would really love to go to Portland, and I’m not just saying that. I hope, and I don’t think I’m dropping that far, but if they decided to move up somehow, I think that would be a great situation for me. It’s a place where you can just concentrate on basketball.”

Oladipo also proved himself at the combine achieving a 42’ inch max vert while bench pressing 185 pounds 15 times, which is exactly 15 times more than Kevin Durant was able to accomplish at the combine six years ago. The bench press is one of the least important tests but it showed that Oladipo has the strength to matchup with any two guard in the NBA.

The NBA combine may not have anywhere near the cache or level of importance as the NFL combine, but athleticism is very important in the NBA and teams definitely got a good sense of who is the real deal athletically and who can’t measure up to NBA competition.

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