The Portland Trail Blazers aren’t likely to land a third star, a future star, or, really, a star of any kind with the 16th overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft.
The Utah Jazz also weren’t supposed to find a star in 1984 when they selected John Stockton in the same slot. Neither were the Chicago Bulls in 1999 with Ron Artest. Same story for the Denver Nuggets in 2014 with a certain Beast from Bosnia.
The 16th overall pick has historically been as advertised: a post-lottery grab bag with some hits, plenty of misses and a few real gems available for the taking.
For the Blazers, tanking into the lottery was never an option. They earned their playoff matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers, no matter how it played out, and they earned the right to find the next great steal with the 16th pick this offseason.
Portland will need a little help to make this happen. Devin Vassell’s name has shown up in the Blazers’ range on Mock Drafts, but he has the potential to be not just a lottery pick but a top-10 selection if the right team sees his value.
If the Blazers catch a break and Vassell falls victim to a slide, Portland should be happy to pick him up. He’s a 6’7”, 180-pound small forward who is probably the upcoming draft’s best 3-and-D prospect both in terms of production and versatility on the point-preventing end.
Although the sophomore averaged just barely over 12 points per night, he showed some improvements in his pull-up game, adding a wrinkle to his offensive game we hadn’t previously seen.
At 6’6”, 213 pounds, Aaron Nesmith, a sophomore small forward out of Vanderbilt, Aaron Nesmith would give the Trail Blazers a high-efficiency scorer on the perimeter. His 23 points per game are impressive in a vacuum, but they become lethal when realizing he shoots over 50 percent from both the field and behind the arc.
Although known as a shooter (and one diversifying how he does it), he’s also managed to collect over five rebounds per game over his two season, and he has a 6’10” wingspan that, along with his smarts on the court, has continued to boost his defense since joining the Commodores.
Nesmith did see his sophomore season end with a foot injury, so the Blazers—a team all too familiar with lower-limb maladies–must do all their homework instead of just focusing on the offense.
At 6’5”, Theo Maledon brings real size to the point guard position, and he brings it over from France.
Maledon is the kind of player Portland can bring in whether it’s to groom for the future or to play out of the gate should Anfernee Simons be moved during the offseason. He’s a high-IQ floor general, and he plays well whether he’s on or off the ball—aka, someone who can take the pressure off of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in a number of ways.
Despite his size, Maledon isn’t a supreme athlete, but he has a good feel for the game and uses his skills in a way that should translate to the NBA. After all, he is, quite literally a pro, having won medals and championships in France for years despite being just 19 years old.