Draft day has come and gone, but boy was it eventful. I think Blazers GM Neil Olshey has proven himself to be an elite “drafter,” if you can use that name. He drafted very well in both the first and second rounds, and also made a very nice trade.
In the first round, the Blazers drafted LeHigh guard CJ McCollum with the 10th pick. Olshey said he would take the best available player for the draft, which is exactly what he did, and I’m not mad. Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has endorsed McCollum numerous times, saying he loved the pick Olshey made. McCollum is a very good 3-point shooter, is a prolific scorer, and also has a quick first step off the dribble, giving him the edge over the defender. He has an effective cross-over dribble, and can also be a crafty defender, creeping into the opponents passing lanes for steals. To add to that, he is a good rebounder for his position. He has been knocked for his lack of strength, but that can be developed with weight training over his first season or two. In my eyes, this was a great pick. He fits well with the team, fills a void by being able to control the ball, and has a good chemistry with at least one current Blazer player.
In the the second round, Neil Olshey was outstanding. At the very start, he made a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, acquiring the 31st pick in the draft for just two future second-round draft pick. Using the pick, he drafted California shooting guard Allen Crabbe. The first thing you should think of when you hear the name “Crabbe” is “elite shooter.” The guy can shoot the lights out from 3-point range. He can score in transition, has a developed mid-range game, and is a good free-throw shooter. He has been knocked for his ball handling, his lack of strength, and the fact that he is not an explosive leaper. I, like many Blazer fans on Twitter, like the pick, especially because it didn’t cost us that much. He stretches the floor and gives more room for power forward LaMarcus Aldridge to work on the block.
Crabbe was shortly followed by Kansas center Jeff Withey, who Olshey stole with the 39th pick. Yes, I said “stole.” Withey is an excellent interior defender, who averaged 4 blocks per game in college. If that isn’t a good enough reason to draft somebody, I don’t know what is. As most big men need to be, Withey can also rebound well. He can even knock down a face-up jump-shot. His biggest knock is that he is not as strong as he needs to be. He also needs to polish off his offensive skills in the low post. I love this pick, especially because he fills a huge, gaping void the Blazers had: a defensive center.
Portland also held the pick consecutively after Withey: 40. With that, they drafted Arizona power forward Grant Jerrett. I would give a lot of details on Jerrett, but I don’t need to. He will be traded tonight. He will be a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Portland will receive “cash considerations.” I’m not sure how I feel about this trade, but I have faith in Olshey, and I assume that this was a good deal. We’ll wait to see how Jerrett pans out.
Lastly, Portland drafted center Marko Todorovic out of Montenegro. He most recently played for Regal Barcelona, Spain. He is an agile big man who runs the floor well, is a good passer, rebounds well, and is a solid post-up player. He is also considered to have a “high ceiling,” meaning “lots of potential.” He, like other players the Blazers drafted today, lacks strength, especially upper body strength. He is not consistent enough in the 15 to 18 foot range, and also hasn’t played against competition good enough. He will remain in Europe for a few years to develop his game before coming to play as a Blazer.
Today, we got plenty of scorers to add to the bench, which is always welcomed. We also got some defense on the inside. However, I still feel we need a back-up small forward and a back-up power forward. Where do we go for that, I don’t know.
In my opinion, Neil Olshey has proven himself by drafting. Now, it’s time for him to prove that he can go into free agency and come out with a starting-caliber center. I’m not sure if the Blazers would be fine starting Meyers Leonard.
What do you guys think about the new prospects? What do you think should be the Blazers #1 priority this summer? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time,