There are many facets to the NBA draft and each franchise is deeply entrenched in preparation for the June 27 event. The combine has come and gone and now the prospects are visiting teams for individual and group workouts. This phase of the recruiting and analyzing process is often overlooked as merely an internal affair. However, for a small market team like the Portland Trail Blazers, this step of the process could pose as more of a long-term investment.
A major dig on being a small market team in Portland is that they cannot bring in impactful free agents. That has been evident when even guys like Hedo Turkoglu turn down a contract in Portland.
What factors weigh into that negative image of this team as a free agent destination?
Nothing spectacular to offer.
No nightlife to speak of.
I really believe that General Manager Neil Olshey and the rest of the front office and coaching staff could help combat some of those factors during a short workout with these prospects.
The weather this time of year is why we all live here in Portland. It has been beautiful, sunny 80 degrees. Couldn't ask for better weather for the draft prospects to touch down at PDX. First impressions go a long ways, and it's really a good thing they don't come to work out in February or March.
There next impression will be the practice facility in Tualatin. I've been there on multiple occasions and it sure is an impressive facility. The training room, hot and cold tubs, state of the art work out equipment and impressive gym really shows the professionalism and dedication of ownership. I haven't been to any other NBA practice facilities but have been told that the Blazers facilities are above average compared to the majority of the league.
Once they step onto the floor, they will be greeted by the coaching staff and evaluated by the scouts, management and ownership. This can be extremely intimidating but according to all accounts, the coaching staff is doing a great job of making the prospects comfortable and feel at home. According to reports, Glen Rice Jr. felt at home in Portland and felt like there was a family atmosphere to the coaching staff. That will go a long way to winning over these kids.
I realize these prospects don't have any say in where they end up. You may be wondering by now, “How does this dog and pony show help the franchise in the future?”
A few years from now, all these rookies’ contracts will expire and will be free agents. At that point, it would be incredibly beneficial for those up-and-coming stars in this league to have a positive memory in Portland. Also, the NBA is a tight knit fraternity and these guys talk. Anything this franchise can do to help increase the image of this city and team will help in the long run.
As fans, media members and mere onlookers, we just hope for the best for this franchise. But I am sure hoping that the few in charge are rolling out the red carpet for these athletes who one day down the road may just be the needle-moving free agent that could change the trajectory of this franchise forever.
Garrett Thornton is on Twitter. Follow him at @PortlandGarrett