Tag Archives: Portland Trail Blazers

2017 NBA Mock Draft 1.0

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Markelle Fultz

1. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets)-Markelle Fultz-Freshman-Point Guard-Washington

If the Boston Celtics do not trade this pick, they will be stumbling on some more talent for thier back court.

2. Los Angeles Lakers-Lonzo Ball-Freshman-Point Guard-UCLA

The Lakers are the only team that Lonzo Ball is working out for, and if he isn’t picked here, he will drop on the draft board.

3. Philadelphia 76ers (via Sacramento Kings)-De’Aron Fox-Freshman-Point Guard-Kentucky

If the Lakers mess things up for themselves with the second overall pick, it won’t take the Sixers that long to pick up the pieces.

4. Phoenix Suns-Josh Jackson-Freshman-Small Forward-Kansas

The Suns already have a young and exciting back court with point guard Eric Bledsoe and shooting guard Devin Booker; now it is time to get more players in the front court who can produce.

5.Sacramento Kings(via) Philadelphia 76ers Kings-Jayson Tatum-Freshman-Small Forward-Duke

A selection here of Jayson Tatum all but signals the end of small forward Rudy Gay’s run with the Kings.

6. Orlando Magic-Jonathan Isaac-Freshman-Small Forward-Florida State

The Magic could raise some eyebrows here by taking a youngster that has plenty of upside.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves-Lauri Markkanen-Freshman-Power Forward-Arizona

The Timberwolves continue to stockpile young talent and you have to wonder if some of it will be used in a trade to acquire a veteran player.

Malik Monk

8. New York Knicks-Malik Monk-Freshman-Point Guard-Kentucky

Don’t look now but the selection of Malik Monk would be the best thing that the New York Knicks did at the NBA Draft in a very long time.

9. Dallas Mavericks-Zach Collins-Freshman-Center-Gonzaga

With an aging power forward in Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks need to have themselves a youth movement in their front court.

10. Sacramento (via New Orleans Pelicans) Kings-Dennis Smith Jr.-Freshman-Point Guard-North Carolina State

The Kings have the opportunity to do something that they have not done in years which is to select some talent.

Justin Jackson

11. Charlotte Hornets-Justin Jackson-Junior-Small Forward-North Carolina

The Hornets could go in several directions with this pick, but I don’t see Michael Jordan passing up on a fellow North Carolina Tar Heel.

12. Detroit Pistons-Frank Ntilikina-Point Guard-Belguim

The one thing that is holding the Pistons back from being a consistent playoff team is their lack of a true point guard.

13. Denver Nuggets-Justin Patton-Freshman-Center-Creighton

The Nuggets barely missed on making the NBA Playoffs this year, and they could get there next season as they are stockpiling solid big men.

14. Miami Heat-Harry Giles-Freshman-Power Forward-Duke

By putting Harry Giles alongside center Hassan Whiteside, the Heat could be building a young and formidable front court in the Eastern Conference.

15. Portland Trail Blazers–John Collins-Sophomore-Power Forward-Wake Forest

As the Blazers have three first-round picks, they could either move up, or focus on improving their front court.

Luke Kennard

16. Chicago Bulls-Luke Kennard-Sophomore-Shooting Guard-Duke

Dwyane Wade is still the Bulls starting shooting guard, but as he is 35-years of age, it is time to look towards the future.

17. Milwaukee Bucks-Jarrett Allen-Freshman-Center-Texas

The rich get richer here as the Bucks can develop another athletic big man.

18. Indiana Pacers-Terrance Ferguson-Small Forward-United States

If the Pacers want to retain the services of small forward Paul George they need to put some more talent around him.

19. Atlanta Hawks-Ike Anigbogu-Freshman-Power Forward-UCLA

With power forward Paul Millsap scheduled to become a free agent, the Hawks need to get themselves some insurance in the front court should they lose him.

20. Portland Trail Blazers (via Memphis Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, and Cleveland Cavaliers)-OG Anunoby-Sophomore-Small Forward-Indiana

The Trail Blazers focus for the NBA Draft must be focusing on upgrading their front court.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder-Bam Adebayo-Freshman-Center-Kentucky

For the Thunder it’s all about guys who can play off of point guard Russell Westbrook as Bam Adebayo is a player that can crash the boards.

Caleb Swanigan

22. Brooklyn Nets (via Washington Wizards)-Caleb Swanigan-Sophomore-Power Forward-Purdue

The Nets will have to wait until they can pick in the draft, but they’ll get the chance to draft a quality big man.

23. Toronto Raptors (via Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks)-Tyler Lydon-Sophomore-Small Forward-Syracuse

The Raptors are going to have their hands full as far as retaining the services of point guard Kyle Lowry this summer when he hits free agency. However they’ll at least find a solid shooter to play alongside shooting guard DeMar DeRozan.

24. Utah Jazz-Donovan Mitchell-Sophomore-Point Guard-Louisville

The Jazz need to upgrade the point guard position after George Hill led the team in assists last season with only 3.6 per game.

25. Orlando Magic (via Toronto Raptors)-T.J. Leaf-Freshman-Power Forward-UCLA

As the Magic only have one power forward currently on their roster in Aaron Gordon, they need more depth at the position.

Ivan Rabb

26. Portland Trail Blazers (via Cleveland Cavaliers)-Ivan Rabb-Sophomore-Power Forward-California

If Ivan Rabb had left school last year he could have been a top-five pick. But Rabb’s loss could be the Trail Blazers gain.

27. Brooklyn Nets (via Boston Celtics)-Rodions Kurucs-Small Forward-Spain

For a team that didn’t have a ton of hope entering the draft, the Nets could emerge and save face.

28. Los Angeles Lakers (via Houston Rockets)-Josh Hart-Senior-Shooting Guard-Villanova

New Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka has an eye for talent and Josh Hart is a leader that can fit into their ball movement offense.

29. San Antonio Spurs-Isaiah Hartenstein-Power Forward-United States

It wouldn’t be the Spurs if they didn’t draft a guy that has played overseas.

30. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors)-Edmond Sumner-Sophomore-Point Guard-Xavier

I expect an open competition at point guard for the Jazz this summer.

 

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2016-2017 Northwest Division Projections

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X-Portland Trailblazers 51-31 (4)

After winning 51 games during the 2014-2015 NBA season, the 2015-2016 campaign was expected to be a down one for the Portland Trailblazers. The summer of 2015 saw the Trailblazers ravaged by departures which included power forward LaMarcus Aldridge joining the San Antonio Spurs and shooting guard Wes Matthews signing on with the Dallas Mavericks. But Blazers general manager Neil Olshey didn’t cry over spilled milk as he simply went to work in building his team around All-Star point guard Damian Lillard. Last season saw Lillard become the focal point of the Trailblazers offense to the tune of averaging 25.1 points per game. And when the regular season was over, Portland shocked many people as they were heading for the NBA Playoffs. But the Blazers weren’t just content to reach the postseason as they advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals for the second time in three years. Now the Trailblazers will head into this NBA season looking to build off of their last campaign and add to what they accomplished.

Damian Lillard

Aside from Lillard being the best player on the Trailblazers team, he is rapidly developing into one of the best players in the league. Along with averaging 25.1 points per game last season, Lillard averaged a career high in assists with 6.8. Lillard isn’t afraid to mix it up in the post as well where as averaged 4 rebounds per contest last season. And as Lillard goes, so goes the fortunes of the Trail Blazers, but he has a team around him that can compliment his style of play.

Center Mason Plumlee has seen his numbers improve in each of three NBA seasons, and after being a starter in all 82 games for Portland last year, he could be poised to average a double-double in points and rebounds this time around. Like Plumlee, the Blazers also employ players in their front court such as power forward Ed Davis and center Meyers Leonard who can play off of Lillard’s ability to get to the basket as they are finishers at the rim who don’t require set plays to be run for them.

Lillard is consistently paired with guard C.J. McCollum to give the Blazers one of the fastest backcourts in the NBA as it is simply pick your poison with both players who have the ability to take over a game.

During the summer, Portland signed swingman Evan Turner to a four-year, $70 million deal. Turner gives the Trailblazers another ball handler, while he is a solid defender. And due to the attention that Lillard and McCollum will receive, Turner is going to see more than his fair share of open looks at the basket which should allow for him to have one of his more productive seasons in the NBA.

Aside from Turner, the Trail Blazers also signed center Festus Ezeli in free agency. Ezeli was an under utilized big man during his time with the Golden State Warriors, but his championship experience could pay dividends for a young team in Portland.

Terry Stotts

Terry Stotts is set to begin his fifth season as the Blazers head coach, and in spite of the fact that he has guided this team to the postseason in each of the last three years, he is an underrated commodity in the NBA. But Stotts has a team this time around that could be more than just a playoff participant as the Trail Blazers have the potential to do some damage in the Western Conference.

Y-Oklahoma City Thunder 50-32 (5)

This past June the Oklahoma City Thunder appeared to be on the verge of heading to the NBA Finals, until things came apart for them in the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder had a 3-1 series lead against the Golden State Warriors until the wheels fell off. And as the 2016 NBA Playoffs ended in heartbreaking fashion for the Thunder, the sorrow didn’t end there for them.

After nine years with the Seattle Supersonics/ Oklahoma City Thunder franchise, small forward Kevin Durant decided to leave. Durant spurned the Thunder’s offer in free agency in favor of joining the Golden State Warriors. Durant’s departure signals the end of his pairing with point guard Russell Westbrook as one of the most dynamic duos in the NBA. But if anyone is expecting the Thunder to feel sorry for themselves after Durant left town, think again.

Thunder general manager Sam Presti is one of the best front office people in the NBA when it comes to putting a team together which means that Oklahoma City should be poised for another run to the NBA Playoffs.

Russell Westbrook

After Durant left, the Thunder made it their business to sign Westbrook to a three-year extension that is worth $85.7 million as he will be the centerpiece for head coach Billy Donovan. This new deal will keep Westbrook in Oklahoma City through 2020 which is more than enough time for him to show the basketball world that he is ready to emerge from Durant’s shadow.

When Durant missed the majority of the 2014-2015 NBA season with a foot injury, Westbrook led the league in scoring at 28.1 per contest. And I don’t see Donovan attempting to hold him back this year.

Enes Kanter

But around Westbrook, the Thunder have a very talented team that consists of the likes of centers Enes Kanter and Steven Adams. Last year with the Thunder, Kanter averaged 12.7 which was the result of not enough basketballs to go around for everyone, but this time around he should become more involved in the offense due to the loss of Durant. Adams is a wild man on the boards and at the defensive end of the court as you never know what you’re going to get from him which makes him an X-factor for the Thunder.

Aside from losing Durant, center Serge Ibaka was traded to the Orlando Magic. In exchange for Ibaka, the Thunder received shooting guard Victor Oladipo, power forward Ersan Ilyasova, and the draft rights to power forward Domantas Sabonis.

Oladipo is expected to be a running mate in the Thunder’s backcourt with Westbrook and he should be able to have an immediate impact. In three years with the Magic, Oladipo averaged 15.9 points per game, and as long as he is healthy, the sky is the limit this season for him in Oklahoma City.

Last year Sabonis was a second-team All-American for the Gonzaga Bulldogs where he averaged 17.6 points, and 11.8 rebounds per contest. Sabonis is the son of former Portland Trail Blazers center Arvydas, and he will flash some of the moves that his old man did once upon a time on the hardwood.

Billy Donovan

In Donovan’s first year as the head coach of the Thunder, he stayed out of the way while letting his superstars in Westbrook and Durant do their thing. This time around I can see Donovan being more hands on, but I doubt that he will attempt to stop the one-man show that is Westbrook.

Y-Utah Jazz 41-41 (8)

The last two NBA seasons have seen the Utah Jazz overachieve, but it still wasn’t enough for them to make the playoffs. The Jazz won 40 games last season and missed making the NBA Playoffs by one game which is something the head coach Quin Snyder will attempt to build off of as Utah is seeking their first postseason berth since 2012.

Gordon Hayward

If Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward played in a bigger market, he would be a household name. In each of Hayward’s first six seasons in the NBA, his offensive stats have increased which included him averaging 19.7 points per game. Hayward is developing into one of the better wing players in the NBA, and his continued improvement is vital to any success that Utah seeks. Like Hayward, the numbers of power forward Derrick Favors continue to improve as he is one the most underrated big men in the Western Conference. At 7’1″, the length of center Rudy Goubert gives opponents problems, and after he averaged 11 rebounds and 2.2 blocks last season, he is a prime candidate to be the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year this time around.

With the return of point guard Dante Exum who missed the entire 2015-2016 NBA season after suffering a torn ACL, the Jazz decided to trade point guard Trey Burke to the Washington Wizards for a 2021 draft pick. And along with veteran guard Shelvin Mack who led the Jazz in assists last year with 5.6, Exum will be looked at as being one of the floor generals for Utah.

Last year the Jazz were one of the younger teams in the NBA, but general manager Dennis Lindsey has attempted to remedy that as over the summer he signed veteran swingman Joe Johnson, point guard George Hill, and power forward/center Boris Diaw. All three players have tremendous experience in the NBA which includes Diaw winning an NBA Championship in 2014.

Eight of Utah’s first eleven games will be on the road this season, but this is a Jazz squad that
should be up for the challenge.

 

Minnesota Timberwolves 37-45

The Minnesota Timberwolves are in the midst of a very long hibernation. You have to go back to 2004 in order to find the last time that the Timberwolves made the playoffs as they’ve become an afterthought in the NBA. Minnesota has had its fair share of misses at the NBA Draft, but they finally appear to be headed in the right direction.

Tom Thibodeau

Tom Thibodeau is set to begin his first year as the T-Wolves head coach and president of basketball operations as he will be bringing law and order to the franchise. For five years Thibodeau was the head coach of the Chicago Bulls and in each season he was able to get them to the postseason. Under Thibodeau, the Bulls were one of the better defensive teams in the NBA and that is a philosophy that he will attempt to instill into the young Timberwolves who gave up 106 points per game last season which was tied for 23rd in the NBA.

Karl-Anthony Towns

The Timberwolves have the last two NBA Rookie of the Years to work with in shooting guard Andrew Wiggins and center Karl-Anthony Towns. Last year Wiggins led the Timberwolves in scoring at 20.7 points per contest and it would not surprise me to see him make the All-Star team this year. Power forward Karl-Anthony Towns was a double-double machine last year for the Timberwolves, and he has the potential to be the second best big man in franchise history behind Kevin Garnett. The T-Wolves also have a pair of young ball handlers in point guard Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine, while guard Kris Dunn could be in the running to win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year which would make it three years in a row that the franchise could claim that honor.

Five of the Timberwolves first seven games will be on the road, and even if they start slow, this should a be an exciting team as the NBA season progresses.

Denver Nuggets 35-47

After a decade of success, the Denver Nuggets are fading into obscurity. From 2004-2013, the Nuggets made 10 consecutive playoff appearances, but the last three years have seen them fail to reach the postseason while winning no more than 36 in any campaign. And as Michael Malone is set to begin his second year as the Nuggets head coach, he must find the right formula that can once again make Denver a playoff contender in the Western Conference.

One thing that has hurt the Nuggets in recent years is that they don’t have a consistent go-to scorer. Last year the Nuggets had seven players average at least 10 points per game with small forward Danilo Gallinari leading the team with 19.5 points per contest. However the Nuggets lack of a consistent 20-point per game scorer will hurt them against the better teams in the Western Conference.

The keys to any potential success for the Nuggets during the 2016-2017 NBA season will come down to the development of point guard Emanuel Mudiay, the health of Gallinari, and how power forward Kenneth Faried will play off of them.

Emmanuel Mudiay

Last year as a rookie, Mudiay averaged 12.8 points and 5.5 assists as he was one of the better first-year players in the NBA. Mudiay has the potential to be a quality floor general and the Nuggets could be ready to improve if he continues to make progress.

In five seasons with the Nuggets, Gallinari has averaged 15.6 points per game, but his main issue has been his inability to remain healthy. In eight NBA seasons, Gallinari has never appeared in all 82 games as he has been done in by knee injuries. But in spite of that Gallinari is still a solid perimeter scorer as he is a career 41% scorer. And if Gallinari is able to appear in at least 70 games this season, it should be a big boost for the Nuggets.

 

 

If there were an All-Energy team in the NBA, Faried would be on it. There’s nothing fancy about Faried’s game as he plays with the mentality of a junkyard dog. Faried scraps and claws as he does whatever is necessary for the Nuggets to win. Faried is one of those rare players in the NBA that doesn’t need a play to be called for him, but when the game is done, he’ll have 15 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals, along with the respect of his opponents. And it is that ability of Faried which will allow him to play off of Mudiay and Gallinari.

As a team the Nuggets were 22nd in the NBA in points allowed last season as they surrendered 105 per contest which must improve if they want to become a playoff contender.

Six of Denver’s first seven games for the upcoming NBA season will be on the road and they last thing that need is a slow start which could derail their postseason chances before they even start.

X-Division Winner
Y-Clinched Playoff Berth
Source: Basketball-reference.com
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Dame Dash

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After winning 115 games over the last two NBA seasons, the Portland Trail Blazers expected this to be a totally different year for them. Last summer the Trail Blazers lost six of their top seven scorers from the previous season through trades and free agency. And in the Western Conference, that meant that the Blazers would be fighting an uphill battle. But at the NBA’s All-Star break, the Blazers surprisingly find themselves right in the middle of the playoff race in the Western Conference. At 27-27, Portland is in seventh place in the West, and a rebuilding process that appeared to be a few years in the making is nearly complete just a few months in with the center piece being All-Star point guard Damian Lillard.

Lillard has taken the unconventional path to becoming a star in the NBA as he attended Weber State University for four years where he was a two-time Big Sky Conference Player of the Year. In Lillard’s last year at Weber State, he averaged 24.5 points per game which caught the eye of NBA scouts. Lillard would become the sixth overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft by the Trail Blazers, but he would really make a name for himself that July in the Vegas Summer League where he averaged 26.5 points, 5.3 assists, and 4 rebounds in being named Co-MVP.

As an NBA rookie, Lillard averaged 19 points and 6.5 assists as he became the first Trail Blazer since Brandon Roy in 2007 to be named as the league’s Rookie of the Year. Lillard would develop an immediate chemistry with power forward LaMarcus Aldridge as the duo became a sensational inside-out duo that would propel the Blazers in 2014 to the Western Conference Semifinals for the first time since 2000. The Trailblazers were once again a contender last season until the NBA Playoffs rolled around and they were hit by the injury bug. And after that the exodus of quality players from the Pacific Northwest began which was led by Aldridge joining the San Antonio Spurs. But whereas the Blazers would have a different look heading into the current NBA season, it has not slowed down Lillard.

With so much talent having left Portland, it is no shock that Lillard’s offensive numbers have increased this season. Lillard is currently sixth in the NBA in points (24.3), and assists (7.3). And for a 6″3″ point guard, Lillard is averaging 4.4 rebounds per game.

The landscape of the Trail Blazers has changed with them being more of a perimeter oriented team with Lillard and shooting guard C.J. McCollum leading the way. Portland does have some athletic big men in small forward Al-Farouq Aminu, power forward Meyers Leonard, along with centers Ed Davis and Mason Plumlee that all play well without the ball while crashing the boards which is tailor-made for Lillard’s style of play. Lillard is one of the fastest guards in the NBA and the ability of the Blazers to run the floor along with spacing and ball movement are why they find themselves in playoff contention.

The Trail Blazers were not expected to contend with the Oklahoma City Thunder this season for the top spot in the Northwest Division, and they are not as the Thunder have all but wrapped up the division title. But Lillard’s growth as a point guard has given Portland an identity; especially with him having already tallied 12 double-doubles this season. In each NBA season that Lillard has played, his numbers have improved and he has also become a marketing gem which is evident by his lucrative endorsement deal to be one of the poster boys for sneaker giant Adidas.

Lillard’s improvement and maturation as a player have put Blazers general manager Neil Olshey and head coach Terry Stotts in a good position as they can now think about potentially being a buyer at the NBA’s Trade Deadline this Thursday which didn’t appear to be the case back in October. And the scary thing for the rest of the NBA is that there is still room for Lillard to improve as a perimeter shooter. Lillard has proven that he can hold his own against quality NBA point guards such as Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul, Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry, and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook. Lillard is also adding to the legacy of NBA point guards from the Bay Area such as Gary Payton and Jason Kidd and it isn’t that far-fetched that he could one day be the league’s MVP.

This past weekend has seen Lillard rubbing elbows with the NBA’s elite players at the All-Star Game, and even though that he didn’t take the conventional road to stardom, his name is now consistently brought up in basketball circles as one of the better players in the league.

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