As the NBA Finals come to a close and a champion is crowned, no later than next Tuesday, basketball season will officially be over. Here comes the fun part for upper management in the NBA team offices.
The NBA draft is quickly approaching and the Portland Trail Blazers have important decisions to make with their first two picks in the draft set at number six and 11.
Newly appointed Trailblazer general manager Neil Olshey obviously has a lot to analyze in his first draft with Portland. Should the Blazers send picks No. 6 and 11 to the Cleveland Cavaliers for picks No. 4 and 24 or do the Blazers keep the picks they have, draft quality players at six and 11 while making a few changes via trades going after a talent like Steve Nash?
Apparently the Trailblazers leading scorer in LaMarcus Aldridge developed a relationship with Nash and began somewhat of a courtship.
“Just messing with him about coming here,” Aldridge told The Oregonian newspaper. “I was just throwing little stuff out there.”
Olshey apparently isn’t interested in veterans on the tail end of their careers, but a point guard of Nash’s caliber could drastically turn things around. At least for the next two years.
The problem for Portland, in this regard, is that they already have more than enough point guards on the roster. Raymond Felton got the nod to start last year in an up and down season for Portland. Felton led the Blazers in assists with 6.5 per game. Unfortunately, he also led the Blazers in turnovers. To put it simply, Nash would be a better addition to the position. Nolan Smith and Jonny Flynn are both works-in-progress and Jamal Crawford is a combo-guard that’s status with Portland is uncertain as he is expected to opt-out and test the free agent waters yet again.
The Blazer are interested in Florida Gators shooting guard Bradley Beal. Beal, according to NBA scouts, isn’t projected fall as far as sixth in the draft. If Portland wants him and feels he is necessity for the roster, it seems in their best interest to make a swap with Cleveland.
Also, Portland needs a center after the failed Greg Oden experiment and a newly acquired big man would complement an experienced point guard in Nash. According to NBA.com, University of Connecticut center Andre Drummond is apparently on the draft-board of the Blazers which shows their interest in a big man.
But why take a chance on somebody who was inconsistent in one season of college basketball as opposed to a solid defender and face-up shooter in Tyler Zeller from North Carolina?
The Blazers have enough scorers in LaMarcus Aldridge and their plethora of shooters. Adding Nash to the mix would only assist in the transition scoring of Nicolas Batum and slowly ease in a player like Zeller.
It seems the best option wouldn’t be to swap picks, but to trade Felton and another one of the many guards for Nash, while letting Smith and Flynn learn the point guard position for a couple years from one of the game’s best.
In drafting a center as opposed to another guard, this would help in continuing the defensive development of the 7’3” Hasheem Thabeet and further round out the Portland roster. Whatever the Blazers and Olshey decide to do in this year’s draft, or via free agency and trades, the pieces are set-up to make a few moves that will put Portland back into real contention for the Western Conference. Fortunately, it appears the Blazers will find success sooner rather than later.
It’s been quite a while since the Blazers’ last trip to the Finals, 20 years ago against the Chicago Bulls. The common mentality within franchises now isn’t rebuilding over the next couple years, but winning right now. Hopefully Olshey will follow suit.