It happened, and it was painful. The band-aid was ripped off during the trade deadline for the Blazers shipping out one of the cornerstones in CJ McCollum. Truthfully it was time; he and Dame peaked two seasons before. They also shredded the contracts of Norman Powell, Robert Covington, and Larry Nance Jr. Accompany that with Damian Lillard essentially being out the entire season, and they’ve finally hit the tank mode that many fans asked for years ago. It’s not all doom and gloom in the city of roses with two first round picks coming by way of the trade. We’re a day away from the start of the second weekend, and there will be a handful of players you’ll want to watch that could be suiting up for Portland next October. Here are five prospects I think are worth a look with a realistic chance of landing in the 4-14 range where the Blazers could have two picks.
Jaden Ivey | Purdue | 6’4 | SG
He’s probably the biggest longshot for anyone on the list, but Ivey is an electric guard that gives off Donavon Mitchell vibes. Anthony Simons has made a jump and should pair well with Dame, but Ivey has a much higher ceiling and would be a home run pick. You’ll see his lightning quickness on display at any moment he decides he wants to go to the basket. Because when he does, no one can stay in front of him.
AJ Griffin | Duke | 6’6 | SF
It seems like the Blazers have been looking for a 3-and-D wing for years now, and Griffin is the ideal fit for the role. He’s the son of former NBA player Adrian Griffin and has a silky-smooth jumper shooting a wild 45% from three this season. He’s accustomed to playing off-ball behind lead scorers but also can do a bit more. This would bold well for a team with a ball-dominant backcourt.
Bennedict Mathurin | Arizona| 6’6 | SF/SG
He’s a sophomore that has a high level of F-You to him when he plays. He has an NBA-level package offensively, and if he buys in on the defensive end, he could be a multi-All-Star. He shoots well off the dribble and has elite athleticism. Shades of Zach LaVine would be my comparison.
Mark Williams | Duke | 7’1 | C
Nurkic not being moved at the deadline was one of the biggest shockers, but it’s still apparent that it’s time to turn the page after another season of him battling injuries. Williams was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and is your classic rim running big that plays defense. Think Jarrett Allen without the soul fro. And a nice icing on the cake, he shoots 74% from the free throw line.
Ochai Agbaji | Kansas | 6’6 | SF
He’s an All-American and four-year player at KU. He’s made gradual improvements each year after having his redshirt lifted midway through his freshman year. He could be a nice target with the Pelicans pick as a high floor player. Having shot 40% from three, he’d fit the bill as a floor spacer and second unit two-guard for the team.