Published June 24, 2013
| Sports Network
The Portland Trail Blazers hung in the Western Conference playoff hunt much longer than anyone suspected they would.
The reasons were simple: LaMarcus Aldridge is the least appreciated star in the league and Damian Lillard was the Rookie of the Year last season in the NBA.
They were fantastic and Wesley Matthews, J.J. Hickson and Nicolas Batum are solid players. Hickson is a free agent, so who knows what happens there.
If Hickson were to bolt Portland, a big man would make sense with the 10th pick. Cody Zeller of Indiana, Kelly Olynyk of nearby Gonzaga or Steven Adams, the raw center from Pittsburgh could all fit.
Another need for the Blazers is a great shooter. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Georgia is a great shooter, but he could very easily go one spot earlier to the equally shooting-deprived Minnesota Timberwolves.
The most interesting potential pick out there for Portland is C.J. McCollum of Lehigh. He reminds some of Lillard in that both were combo guards (Lillard is a much more natural point guard than McCollum) and both came from small schools. Lillard went to Weber State and neither that nor Lehigh will be confused with Kentucky or Duke.
Portland owns three second-round picks, which could be used effectively. The second round will have some talent in it, and the Blazers had the worst bench by miles in the NBA last season.
Under Contract: F: LaMarcus Aldridge; G: Wesley Matthews; G: Damian Lillard; F/C: Joel Freeland; C: Meyers Leonard; G: Victor Claver; F: Sasha Pavlovic; G: Will Barton
Free Agents: C: J.J. Hickson; G: Eric Maynor (restricted); F: Luke Babbitt; G: Elliot Williams; G/F: Nolan Smith
Recent Draft History: 2012: Damian Lillard (6), Meyers Leonard (11), Will Barton (40), Tyshawn Taylor (41)
2011: Nolan Smith (21), Jon Diebler (51)
2010: Elliot Williams (22), Armon Johnson (34)
2009: Victor Claver (22), Dante Cunningham (33), Jon Brockman (38), Patrick Mills (55)
2008: Brandon Rush (13), Joey Dorsey (33), Omer Asik (36), Mike Taylor (55)
Draft picks: 1st round (10th overall), 2nd round (39th, 40th and 45th overall)