Friday, June 24, 2011

2011 NBA Draft: Blazers Recap in 10 Bullets or Less

Grade:  B-

  • Drafted an actual three point threat, Jon Diebler, the all-time three point shooter in Big Ten history.  If he can play the role of a James Jones (before his legs went), he could be a pleasant surprise for Portland and fill a much needed hole.
  • Drafted Nolan Smith, combo guard out of Duke.  Smith, a great leader from a fantastic system, does not fill a hole, instead, he makes the Blazers’ toilet overflow.  The Blazers channeled their inner Minnesota, doing exactly what I feared Allen would want to do in our Draft Preview.  By drafting Smith, the Blazers now have five very similar point guards: Raymond Felton, Patty Mills, Armon Johnson, Elliot Williams, and Smith. 
  • Smith pick was puzzling as Kenneth Faried was still available, an ideal backup to Aldridge.  Unlike other media outlets, I believe the Smith pick is a sign of a larger move to come that will bring us a veteran bruiser in exchange for a handful of backup point guards.
  • Portland freed “the Hostage” (Koponen), showing their liberal sensibilities as a part of a three team trade between Portland, Denver, and Dallas.
  • Showing forward thinking, Blazers ship Rudy to the defending champs in an attempt ensure we can beat the Mavs in the playoffs next year.
  • Dre for Felton.  In this biggest component of the three team deal, the Blazers acquire Raymond Felton from Denver in exchange for Andre Miller, listening to the plea of “There’s Always Next Year” and acquiring a younger, veteran point guard.
  • With Dre, the Blazers lose a true floor general, a should-be future hall of famer for his consistency, work ethic, back to the basket game, and pin-point passing.  He will be sorely missed, but he gets to return to Denver to play with Karl and his future with the Blazers would not have extended past next year.
  • With Felton, the Blazers gain a young (26) veteran point guard who came into his own last year with New York and Denver.  Felton is quick, can defend, and has an above average outside shot.  Felton will help the Blazers spread the floor and free up space down low for LA (and hopefully Oden) to punish other teams.
  • Felton reunited with Mr. Bobcat, Gerald Wallace, an overlooked aspect of this trade.  While Felton was not the same player in Charlotte that he was last year, their history can help bring the new Blazers starting lineup together much more quickly.
  • Grade:  B-.  Without giving up Matthews or Batum, Blazers get a younger point guard who is comparable to Miller and has room for growth.  With a savvy move to acquire a veteran backup PF or C (which will hopefully include unloading at least two point guards), and Felton signing an extension (which I have completely faith he will after seeing how great we will be), this could be seen in a few years as a pivotal draft for the Blazers.  Most NBA analysts are saying this draft showed lateral movement for the Blazers (here and here), but here at “There’s Always Next Year,” we are optimistic the Blazers have done their research and know exactly what their next move is.

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