With the NBA Draft lottery done, it is time for the Draft Combine on June 23rd. However, the biggest question remains regarding the Portland Trail Blazers. After slipping to the 7th pick, what does Joe Cronin‘s office do next? After a visible disappointment from his star player Damian Lilliard, it better be good. With $29M coming off the books for next year, there are some options available. Here are the three best options for the Trail Blazers going forward after this week’s lottery.
— Aaron J. Fentress (@AaronJFentress) May 18, 2022
Portland Trail Blazers – Three Best Options Post Draft Lottery
Trade #7 Pick for Zach Lavine
After trading Lillard’s long-time backcourt partner in CJ McCollum, the Trail Blazers are in dire need of a shooting guard. While Anfernee Simons continues to exceed expectations, the undersized 4-year man may not be able to match up defensively against bigger squads. With the 2022 NBA Draft considered to be deeper than previous years, trading the pick is not a bad idea. An option, using this pick for a sign-and-trade for Zach Lavine. Lillard would not only have a solid defender but an offensive closer in Lavine. This will also give Simons another chance at NBA hardware putting him in contention for Sixth Man Of The Year next season.
Adding in making up for the loss of Normal Powell, the Trail Blazers instantly would have one of the best backcourts in the NBA. The combined average of 48.4 points per game from both of them last year should push Portland over the hump for next year’s playoffs.
Trade #7 Pick for Julius Randle
What if the powers that be believe in the Lillard / Simons combo? Then the 7th pick can be used to improve a frontcourt riddled with uncertainty. Enter the New York Knicks and their troubled star Julius Randle. Several insiders see a divorce between the Knicks and Randle coming soon but nothing has been certain. But after hiring longtime team rival Tim Hardaway as a scout, the Knicks could be looking to go young. Trading the pick to the Knicks for Randle, along with some of their own rotation core, could be an answer. While he is not the caliber of a player he was a year ago, Randle is still a double-double machine.
A simple one-two punch to alleviate the first option burden from the 20 PPG / 9 RPG Randle could make a very scary team to face next season.
— Jamal (@1Utred) May 19, 2022
Keep the #7 Pick
Ultimately, the Portland Trail Blazers could decide to keep the #7 pick and choose a stud from this deep draft. While the pick may not have an immediate impact, it is worth investing in the future. Multiple mock drafts that have been released since the lottery position Portland to choose the best available. Options available include Duke’s 3-and-D wing AJ Griffin or Memphis’ big man Jalen Duren. The best option may be 6’6″ shooting guard Shaedon Sharpe. Fairly unknown due to his college eligibility, the rangy wing could be a pick-and-play into the starting lineup depending on his growth this summer.
Whatever options the Portland Trail Blazers decide, this could be considered one of the most important off-season for the team. With Lillard turning 31 and going into his 11th year in the league, the difference between competing for a title and developing the team’s future may come down to their decision over the 7th pick.
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