Pick and Scroll: Gold Medal Game Edition

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Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

• The Oregonian’s Jason Quick reports that Danny Ferry, former GM of the Spurs and Cavaliers, gets the first interview in Portland’s search for a General Manager.

• Dave Deckard of BlazersEdge and Dwight Jaynes weigh in on Ferry and his track record in San Antonio and Cleveland.

• Speaking of GMs, Nicolas Batum would have taken Evan Turner #1. The article is in French, so here is the Google Translation. Douglas Adams would be proud.

• Few things are worse than journalists who make up facts, don’t back up assertions, use terrible sources, don’t get their facts right and then refuse to correct them when called out, and in general don’t let reality get in the way of a story or a flashy headline. Mike Kurylo of TrueHoop Network sister site KnickerBlogger shares my frustration and butchers a particularly egregious offender.

• In a fanshot over at BlazersEdge, local salary cap expert “Storyteller” of Storyteller’s Contracts breaks down Portland’s cap situation. After reading that, it should be clearer why Ryan Gomes was waived yesterday. See, the luxury tax is an important factor because all the money that gets paid into the luxury tax fund is divided among the fiscally responsible teams that did not pay the luxury tax. So basically, by going over the luxury tax, a team is not only giving money to its competitors, but by being over the tax by even a single dollar means that the taxpaying team does not get a slice of the luxury tax fund pie. Now, I’m not sure how much the luxury tax pie will end up being, however, in the past, being over the tax has meant losing out on around four million dollars or so. If you’re an NBA team, and Isiah Thomas is not involved in your organization, you want to avoid paying the luxury tax for any team that isn’t in immediate contention for a title.

Waiving Gomes gives Portland more flexibility to structure deals and avoid going over the luxury tax. For instance, if Portland were to trade Joel Przybilla and Rudy Fernandez for a player or package of players that make 10 million or so, Portland can now possibly absorb the difference* without going over the luxury tax. They couldn’t do that if Gomes were under contract.

Likewise, if Portland wants to use all or part of the Mid Level Exception or the Bi-Annual Exception, they have more flexibility to do so while possibly not paying the luxury tax.

*NOTE: The difference absorbed is due to the CBA rule that a team over the cap must match salaries within 125% + $100,000, not because of cap room. Portland doesn’t have any cap room and is not currently projected to.

• Austin Rivers put on a shooting clinic last night at the FIBA Americas tournament hitting nine (!) threes in a row on his way to a game high 35 points. It’s not as if Team Canada wasn’t trying to defend Rivers, it’s just that he was hitting everything he threw at the rim. Off a screen, open, facing up his man at the top of the arc and crossing him up for a step-back jumper, it didn’t matter, it went in. To be honest, Rivers took several contested jumpers where normally a team would be better served with more ball movement; however, it is difficult to argue with the results.

After trouncing Team Canada and future Texas Longhorn Myck Kabongo (32 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds), Team USA will face the long and athletic Brazilian big man Lucas Nogueira and Team Brazil for the Gold Medal. Nogueira is a legit seven footer with long arms who has twice blocked eight shots in the tournament thus far. Nogueira can block shots with either hand and has the presence of mind to block those shots to himself, retaining possession for his team. Nogueira’s soft hands and ability to run the floor make him a great target in transition and he positively must be boxed out or he will use his length and quickness to worm his way in for rebounds and tip-outs.

I talked with Josh Hairston about his strategy for playing Nogueira and his philosophy was to attack his hips, get him in the air, get him in foul trouble early and box him out when the shot goes up. If you’d like to see for yourself how Hairston’s strategy plays out, you can watch the game here by clicking play on the live stream there at 7:00 pm central time.

Pick and Scroll: Turn the Page Edition

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Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

 • Mike Barrett is moving on from The Offseason of our Discontent. Does that mean he is moving to The Offseason of our Discotheque? That sounds much nicer. And funkier.

• Portland made a serious play for Tony Parker says Tony Parker. Here is a helpful English translation.

The Blazers are eyeing Danny Ferry. That means Larry Hughes can’t be far behind, right?

• Dave Deckard has a few concerns.

• Mike Tokito of The Oregonian has all the links you might has missed lately, and information on possible General Manager candidates. I think if the Kevin Pritchard situation has shown us anything, it is that general managers can be difficult to judge correctly since their moves are not made in a vacuum. Sometimes other people have the owner’s ear, sometimes multiple people are leveraging all sorts of agendas. Whoever the Trail Blazers select as a general manager, I hope that they are a good communicator. From the Darius Miles letter, to the Hedo Turkoglu fiasco, to Kevin Pritchard’s firing, too often over the last few years, the Blazers as an organization has appeared ham-fisted and tone-deaf.

• TrueHoop Network Sister site KnickerBlogger takes a look at the free agent bargain bin.

• Kevin Pelton on Kevin Pritchard and selling hope vs. selling wins.

• John Wall is here in San Antonio supporting Quincy Miller at the FIBA U18 games, and let me tell you, Quincy Miller is going to be a player. He’s 6’9” and he’s got an inside-outside game. Miller has good ball handling skills and he impressed me with his ability to hit threes and then go inside and make big man moves. Miller has one more year of high school left and plenty of time to grow and fill out. I can easily see him as a “power 3” or a face-up four with the ability to play down low.

Pat Young was impressive again, showing a bit of touch out to the free throw line. Young looks a bit like a smaller Dwight Howard and has a bit of the same gregarious personality. In fact, my brother remarked that if Young was wearing a Magic jersey, he’d do a double take.

Argentina was very aggressive early on with some hard (moving) ball screens which caught Team USA off guard. Team USA had already been switching on all screens, but the switches were late as the defenders bounced of hard picks set by Argentina. In the second period, Team USA made the mental adjustment that hard screens were going to be par for the course and started to execute more sharply. From there, a close game got blown wide open and Team USA just ran away with the lead. Pat Young showed the ability to switch onto the quick Argentinean guards and stay in front of them without fouling, which was impressive since the Argentinean guards are phenomenal actors and one referee was definitely buying what they were selling. At one point, an Argentinean guard hooked Vander Blue’s arm with his elbow and promptly fell down as if he had been shot, Blue was whistled for a foul and was very unhappy about it. There were also about four offensive fouls called on Team USA in a short span that I felt were ridiculous, especially considering the screens set at the other end of the floor. Part of that aforementioned second period mental adjustment was adjusting to how the game was being called.

Austin Rivers didn’t really run the point and honestly he took a few threes when I thought the team would have been better served by Rivers passing the ball. However, Rivers showed excellent ball handling skills and body control as he shook defenders with hesitation moves and crossover dribbles.

Abdul Gaddy has some moves as well. At one point Gaddy went behind his back and shook his defender so hard that the entire arena went “Ooooooh!” Gaddy’s teammate, Trevor Cooney, was apparently in awe as well as he caught a pass like he didn’t expect it and air-balled a corner three.

Speaking of Cooney, he’s got a great jump shot, but he seems to get a bit excited and overshoot the rim. So far, I’ve only seen Cooney play the “Steve Blake/ J.J. Reddick” role of chasing guards around screens and hitting jump shots, so I can’t really speak to his vision or passing ability.

 

Meet the Rookies

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Introducing Luke Babbitt, Elliot Williams and Armon Johnson. First, a few words from Chad Buchanan and Mike Born:

Then the three rookies take questions:

Also, a note on Ryan Gomes, who was a part of the trade of Martell Webster than netted Luke Babbitt. Gomes’ contract is not guaranteed. The Blazers have until 3PM Tuesday to decide if they’d like to keep Gomes, who would cost about $5 million a year for the next three seasons. It looks as if they wont, but will use the time to explore trades.

Pick and Scroll: FIBA u-18 edition.

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Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

• Mike Barrett will have Blazers President Larry Miller on Courtside tonight, along with all three of Portland’s draft picks. Hopefully they can all solve out the issue that is plaguing this franchise: Where the hell is Elliot Williams supposed to eat dinner?

• Brian Berger of Sports Business Radio has theories as to why Kevin Pritchard was fired. They key word to take from the previous sentence is “theories.” In truth, just a handful of people know why Pritchard was fired and I have my doubts that someone who worked in the Blazer PR department twelve years ago is as privy to the inner workings of Vulcan or One Center Court as he claims. In politics, the saying goes “follow the money,” in this case; let us examine each party’s motivation. For Steve Patterson, any shine he can take off of Pritchard is an implicit boost to himself. If Patterson can paint Pritchard as a credit-stealing incompetent, then he is implying that the rightful credit should go to him. Patterson can both vie for redemption and attempt to rehabilitate his image in one fell swoop, even if it means gently, politely, apologetically throwing Pritchard under the bus.

For Berger, the obvious motivation is ratings. This story is getting a lot of play in the Portland media and a lot of people that might not even know Sports Business Radio existed are giving it a listen. Additionally, Berger gets to paint a narrative where he chooses the palate for each character. Accordingly, Bert Kolde is shaded as an almost cartoonishly power hungry villain who rides on Paul Allen’s coattails and gets off on firing underlings. Could this portrait be an accurate representation? Perhaps, however, Berger seems especially ready to illustrate Kolde in this light and one cannot help but sense that perhaps there is some personal animosity there. The other motivation for Berger is time. Let’s say Berger has ten minutes worth of solid information on why Pritchard was fired, well he’s got to make that story stretch to fit a few hours of programming and sometimes when that happens the truth gets stretched as well.

Now, I am in no way saying that Patterson or Berger is being untruthful. For all I know, they could be perfectly honest and vigilant in not letting an ounce of personal spin get in the way of the facts. However, my responsibility when I provide a link (especially to something controversial) to my readers in this medium is to try and give some context along with it. I think that rational people can disagree as to how true Patterson and Berger’s accounts are, but in order to make an intelligent decision about sports media, politics, or life in general, it is always important to measure the perceived incentives to the speaker.

• Dave Deckard from BlazersEdge wants to know if you are “desperate” for Tony Parker. Sorry for the Desperate Housewives joke. Is that show even still on the air?

Martell Webster, the Timberwolf. It just looks so wrong.

• So I’ve been at the FIBA Americas Under 18 World Championships and I think I can say a thing or two about some of the players on team USA. It’s a bit difficult to get a true measure of a player’s abilities in this particular setting because to be quite honest, the level of competition is somewhat lacking. Last night Team USA did more damage to US-Mexico relations than an Arizona immigration bill in a 114-38 slaughter that really wasn’t even as close as the 76 point margin might suggest. I stand about 5’9” in socks, a bit over 5’10” in basketball shoes. On Team USA, a player my height would be the shortest by a few inches, on Team Mexico, they’d play power forward.

Nevertheless, there is some valuable information to be gleaned even in this setting. As a whole, Team USA competes hard every possession, even when ahead by 70 points. Coach Jeff Capel has done a fantastic job leading these guys and getting them to play the game and not the scoreboard. When your team is up by well over 50 points and they are still making hustle plays, drawing charges, and diving for 50-50 balls, it speaks both to their coaching and their character. Team USA has represented their country very well, never complaining much about bad calls, never taunting or showboating (though there was an alley oop or two) and playing hard for 40 minutes.

On to the players: I’ll cover the three players that I found the most impressive and I’ll save the rest for future posts. Let me be the first to jump on the “Draft Austin Rivers” bandwagon. Again, this setting has its limitations. However, I am consistently impressed by Rivers basketball IQ and court awareness. This kid knows where to be and when to be there. Obviously, being the son of former NBA player and current coach of the Celtics, Doc Rivers means that Austin was exposed to the highest levels of the game and quality coaching at an early age. On off-ball defense, Rivers is able to chase his man around screens while keeping his hands in position to deny the pass. During on-ball defense, Rivers moves his feet well and stays in front of his man. On offense, Rivers has an excellent shot from behind the arc but hasn’t had an opportunity to show much else. Rivers said that he expects to run the point a bit more tonight against the more physical Argentina team and I’ll let you know how that goes.

Pat Young is a physical specimen at 6’9” 240lbs. Young has been in a bit of foul trouble, but he’s been productive in the minutes he played. Against Mexico, he showed the ability to switch onto a much smaller player and stay in front of them. Young runs the floor very well, rebounds, and blocks shots. His offense so far has been limited to put-backs and dunks, though he did show a hook shot from the low block that had decent form, though it missed.

Quincy Miller has been just everywhere, filling up the stat sheet with efficient scoring, rebounding the ball (17 against the U.S. Virgin Islands) and blocking shots. He still has some filling out to do, but he has been very impressive so far and looks to be a real contributor at the college level, however, he’s still got a year of high school left.

Kevin Pritchard’s Parting Words

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Pritchard wrote an open letter to Blazer fans, via Oregonlive:

Dear friends,

It’s incredibly difficult to find the words to convey just how lucky and grateful I am to have experienced what I have for the past seven years with the Portland Trail Blazers, but I felt it was important to try.

First and foremost, I want to thank and salute Paul Allen. He is being unfairly characterized as a bad guy in all of this and that is completely inaccurate and totally unfair. We do not have Luke Babbitt, Elliot Williams, Armon Johnson and Ryan Gomes without an owner like Paul, just as we wouldn’t have Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum, Rudy Fernandez, Andre Miller or Greg Oden. He is a Blazers fan in every sense of the word and his only mission is to bring another title to Portland. Like any relationship ours has had a few bumps and bruises, but I would not be where I am today without Paul and for that I am eternally grateful and forever indebted to him.

Parting ways is not the end of the world. Ultimately, it may not be a bad thing at all, but right now I know the emotions are pretty raw. But it doesn’t serve anyone to bash the Trail Blazers or Paul. It is after all a business of tough decisions. So, for the sake of the players, coaches and everyone who believes in Trail Blazers basketball, let’s turn the page, move on and keep our eye on the prize…

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The Portland Roundball Society Post Draft Roundtable

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The draft is finally over. The picks have been made, the suits have been mocked, and the hats have been traded. To help recap the night’s events, we here at Portland Roundball Society invited Coup and SJ from the always excellent Rip City Project to participate in the first ever PRS Draft Round Table.  The result is a three thousand word monster spanning a dozen questions. Please enjoy responsibly.

1. Best Draft Team: 

NATHAN: Well, I’m torn on this one, because as far as landing players, I thought the Kings had the best draft. I think that DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whiteside are both very talented, albeit troubled, players that could be the steals of the first and second rounds if they fulfill their potential. I am concerned that along with Sammy Dalembert, the Kings have cornered the market on temperamental big men. On the other hand, you have to consider it a major victory for both the Heat and the Bulls to clear cap space the way they did. Miami and Chicago put themselves in contention for two or more of the very best players in the league; I consider that a successful draft night.

COUP: I’m going with the Dallas Mavericks here. Obviously Washington did very well for itself and they didn’t screw it up, while Sacramento got great value with Cousins, but for Dallas to begin the night with no first-round picks and finish it with Dominique Jones at No. 25 and Solomon Alabi at No. 50 is fantastic. After that, just for sheer quantity of talent, Portland did well grabbing guys who all have translatable skills, and Miami kept it’s financial flexibility while still giving itself some options to round out a bench if they use all their cap space on All-Stars. That’s some shrewd roster building.

SJ: I liked Sacramento’s job but then again they got players that just landed into their lap. I’m going to actually give props to the New Orleans Hornets. I thought the deal that sent Cole Aldrich and Morris Peterson to OKC for Craig Brackins and Quincy Pondexter was a real good one. They got rid of MoPete’s contract, which if I remember what Tom Penn stated got them out of the luxury tax. They also got two young guys who stayed in college for a while and are ready to contribute. Really underrated job, Monty’s got a nice core of Paul-Collison-Thornton-West-Brackins-Pondexter-Okafor to work with. I also like the sneaky good job Toronto did on the low with Ed Davis falling into their lap and stealing Alabi in the second round. Also underappreciated: Milwaukee.

 2. Worst Draft Team: 

NATHAN: It’s a tie here for me between Golden State and Minnesota. I feel like Golden State blew their pick by taking Ekpe Udoh, an older player with limited upside who I don’t think will be a starter in the league. Udoh is a great person from all reports and will probably be a rotation player, but that’s not what you want at #6. Minnesota had a ton of picks and came away with Wesley Johnson, Martell Webster, two wings who can’t create their own shot, and a couple players to stash. In addition, the Wolves had to give up Ryan Gomes’ valuable contract in the process. 

COUP: Minnesota all the way. David Kahn apparently has no plan other than to bulk up on one position a year. I don’t love Johnson at No. 4 when there were better players on the board, taking another SF, as much as they need wings, at No. 30 looked silly, and the Martell Webster trade makes absolutely no sense on their end. Much as I like Webster, the guy is inconsistent and doesn’t make plays with the ball. Minnesota needs the opposite of that. Considering Babbit would have been cheaper and they sacrificed Gomes’ contract on top of it all, it’s a head slapper of a deal. Then again, they could’ve drafted Cousins and traded for Michael Beasley to reenact the Bash Bro’s from D2: The Mighty Ducks. 

SJ: Golden State tops my list. I like Ekpe Udoh but #6 was a reach and just an overall bad pick for them. They should have either traded down or taken Monroe if you ask me. He just seems repetitive with all the big guys they have drafted and failed with… Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright… not to mention Andris Biedrins. I just don’t see room for him to grow there. I won’t pick on Kahn, instead I’ll say I don’t like what Indiana did in the 2010 Draft. Don’t get me wrong, Paul George is talented and Lance Stephenson is a steal in the 2nd round…but did you need two more perimeter players? Paul George has to remind the Pacers front office of Brandon Rush…who by the way is still on the roster.

3. High Rising Player:

NATHAN: Epke Udoh. I liked him at pick number 17, not at 6. 

COUP: Craig Brackins at 21 and Trevor Booker at 23 both went higher than expected. The Udoh pick made little sense for that Warriors roster, but the highest riser was Ryan Reid at No. 57. The guy wasn’t even supposed to be drafted. 

SJ: Absolutely, positively has to be Greivis Vasquez. Very talented player, but I don’t think anyone actual thought he would be a first-rounder. Landry Fields gets second place, I mean the reaction from Knicks fans was priceless.

4. Sliding Player:

NATHAN: Willie Warren. If Warren had come out last year, he’d have been a lottery pick. At the start of the year he was in the top ten on most everyone’s draft board. To slide from top ten to nearly undrafted is just a colossal tumble. As far as sliding on the night of the draft, Solomon Alabi apparently had some medical red flags and slid from the middle of the first to the end of the second.

COUP: Solomon Alabi. For awhile it appeared as though he was going to be this year’s DeJuan Blair, but then he kept slipping and slipping and even the Spurs passed on him. Turns out he supposedly has Hepatitis B, which turned a lot of teams off. Dallas finally took the risk for the measly cost of a 50th pick.

SJ: Solomon Alabi went from lottery to “what is going on?” territory real fast. The medical situation really scared off a lot of people and I hope that situation works out for him. I want to throw out the name Stanley Robinson who went from projected lottery, to projected mid-to-first round to the 59th pick in the Draft. 

 5. Player drafted to best situation for them:

NATHAN:  James Anderson, San Antonio. First and foremost, the Spurs are a great organization from top to bottom and any player they pick is coming into a model franchise. You can count on Greg Popovich to get the most out of James Anderson’s shooting and overall scoring ability and the Spurs team defense can cover most of his defensive shortcomings.

COUP: The Nets coming to their senses and pairing Derrick Favors with Brook Lopez was the best and most obvious fit in the draft. It’s no forgone conclusion it will work, of course, but if Favors is the player we think he can be, that frontcourt compliments itself very well with the raw, mega-athlete next to the slower, fundamental center. Jordan Crawford also got a nice deal going to Atlanta with Joe Johnson possibly on the way out, and Daniel Orton slipping to Orlando could help him avoid being a bust.

SJ:  I like Cole Aldrich in Oklahoma City a lot. They needed a big man in the worst way, so he fills that void. He’s a young, mature talent on a team whose culture is full of young, mature talent. Not only that but he goes into a situation where he does not have to be the man. I think going to Detroit would have been terrible for him. In Oklahoma City he can be a garbageman, rebound, defend and grow with time. 

6. Player drafted to worst situation for them:

NATHAN:  Al-Farouq Aminu; No, not just because it’s the Clippers either. Aminu is currently best suited to play power forward where his rebounding and shot blocking are valuable and Aminu can use his athleticism to out quick slower fours a la’ Josh Smith. Unfortunately for Aminu, the Clippers already have a very good power forward in Blake Griffin who does everything Aminu does, but better. Now Aminu will be shoehorned in as a small forward when he does not have the ball handling or the shooting ability to succeed there.

COUP: Ed Davis. Let’s take a guy who was criticized for not pushing himself in college and playing every night and put him on a team that doesn’t push itself, doesn’t put any effort into defense and airmails a handful of games across the border. Yeah, that will work.

SJ: Daniel Orton to the Magic. Mainly because he should have stayed in school, but he’s entering a situation where he’s going to be the #3 center for a while. Dwight Howard is not going anywhere, and they are committed to Gortat for a little bit at least. Unfortunately, for some reason I just see him losing favor with Stan Van Gundy early, getting in the doghouse and that being the end of that. I mean remember Brandon Bass was supposed to change their world and ended up pouting in the playoffs until his crazy dunk in garbage time against the Celtics. Runner up is Dominique Jones. Great talent, but in Dallas he’s behind Jason Terry and Rodrique Beaubois who got inconsistent playing time last year. 

 7. Sleeper: 

NATHAN: Well, this draft was so unpredictable (Stanley Robinson with the next to last pick!) that it’s really hard to qualify anyone as a sleeper. It might be homerism, but I’m going to go with Elliot Williams here because apparently he’s very athletic and has a lot of upside. Traditionally, the Blazers have been shrewd evaluators of talent, so for them to have locked on to him so quickly gives me hope.

COUP: He’s a little trendy as a sleeper, but Eric Bledsoe going at 18 and getting swung to the Clippers could be a great situation for him considering how often Baron Davis gets hurt or just doesn’t seem to care. I could see Bledsoe riding pine for awhile and then having a minor-break out once Davis twists an ankle, similar to the arcs taken but this year’s crop of guards.

SJ: I have to go with Gordon Hayward, and I hate myself for it. But I think that’s just the perfect place for him to go. He’s a hard nosed, hard working kid going to play for Jerry Sloan? Are you kidding me? How is that not going to turn out well? Not only that but the fans are absolutely going to love him. He’s my first round sleeper. Second round, I’m going with Luke Harangody. Make all the Scalabrine jokes you want but I feel like he can produce in the NBA. He’s a banger, he works hard, remember how Jon Brockman wowed everyone despite his looks. I foresee the same with Luke Harangody.  

8. Bust:

NATHAN: Gordon Hayward. He landed with a good organization in the Utah Jazz, but I think that he was a reach and will be underwhelming for a #9 pick. Especially considering the players Utah left on the board.

COUP: Paul George, Indiana. With the right team, George could have been very, very good. I just don’t see him improving with Indiana, outside of putting up some decent numerical nights. It feels sort of like Gerald Green going to the Boston Celtics when they were terrible.

SJ:  Ekpe Udoh. He’s a guaranteed bust at #6. I just don’t see him having the talent (or the time) to put up the kind of numbers necessary to justify being drafted there. Especially when you consider he’s going to be compared to big men lower than him who are going to have impacts on their teams. I feel very Jon Barry-esque in this paragraph, but I just don’t see him being anything higher than solid.  


9.) Are we happy with what Portland did?

NATHAN: Draft wise, I think so. Martell Webster needs minutes to produce and therefore wasn’t a good fit behind Nicolas Batum. I’m going to be watching a lot of tape on Luke Babbitt, but there seems to be a disconnect between how he tested athletically in the combine and what he showed at the college level. Most scouting reports called him slow and doubted he could defend NBA small forwards, however, Babbitt had one of the top five lane agility scores at the combine and showed solid leaping ability, though his sprint time wasn’t great. If Babbitt can defend his position and stretch defenses, then he’ll be a good fit behind Nicolas Batum.

Elliot Williams and Armon Johnson seem to be able to do a lot of the same things Jerryd Bayless can do and they don’t seem to counteract any of Bayless’ weaknesses. On the down side, Portland could really use some shooting in the back court; on the upside, maybe they’ll just get everyone on the opposing team into foul trouble.

As far as acquiring Ryan Gomes, he’s about as good as Webster, so to get him talent-wise in a trade that also netted the #16th pick is a very good deal and to get his only partially guaranteed contract is a steal. Gomes can only be traded by himself in a couple months, but a few interesting names that he could be traded for include: Michael Beasley, Nenad Krstic, Mickael Pietrus, Jason Maxiell, Reggie Evans, J.R. Smith, Ronny Turiaf, Kendrick Perkins, Brandon Bass, Rasual Butler, Mike Conley, Ramon Sessions, and Antonio Mcdyess. If Portland turns Martell Webster into Luke Babbitt and Michael Beasley or another talented player, you’ve got to like this draft.

Regarding the Kevin Pritchard situation, whether he should have been fired or not,  I don’t think anyone is happy with the way that went down.

COUP: Value-wise, they made out. I’m not super high on Luke Babbitt, but his advanced numbers are off the charts and I can see exactly why Portland’s staff loves him. The guy is efficient as heck, and should compliment whoever doesn’t get traded of Bayless and Rudy in that bench group. On top of that, as long as he doesn’t turn out like Josh McRoberts, he adds a good amount of lineup flexibility and could possibly play 3/4 with Cunningham in some short-run smallball type lineups.

Williams is tough to get a read on because his college experience was all over the place, but I get the sense he had the talent to be a lottery pick if he stayed another year. I’m not sure how well he fits with the current Blazers, but the talent, and the defense, is there. Of the three picks, he’s the one I could see traded because of his athletic upside, despite the fact that it seems like Kevin Pritchard went through a lot of effort to make sure Williams stayed low on draft boards.

As for Johnson, he’s the type of combo-guard we imagined Portland grabbing when we had Dom Jones slotted at 22 for so long. He’s a bulldog who can get to the line, and is very cheap Bayless insurance if they want to explore trades. But again, I’m not sure how well he fits with today’s roster, and he’ll probably be riding pine for a good while.

SJ:  I think you have to be happy with what Portland did. They got three really talented young players, and set themselves up very well for the future. They also provided themselves insurance at key positions and made guys more expendable. They also got rid of Martell Webster’s inconsistency and contract. My favorite part about these guys is they all will have time to grow. I think Babbitt is an excellent grab, the kid has lottery talent. He can really boost that second unit offensively. Elliot Williams was KP’s pet and with his athleticism, effort and willingness to attack will only help. Armon Johnson is a big strong guard who can just attack the basket and make plays for himself and others. He’ll be key when Miller is gone or if Bayless does not pan out. Williams and Johnson do seem redundant but they give Portland flexibility, youth and most importantly athleticism. 

10. Who should Portland have taken? 

NATHAN: I can’t see anyone that Portland is really going to regret not taking at #16, #22, or #34.

COUP: I thought at first the Blazers were going to trade up to 14 with Houston to grab Patrick Patterson, but Houston was probably too smart for that. Otherwise, Portland seemed to grab guys just as a certain tier of talent was drying up, so they didn’t miss out on much. Terrico White vs. Armon Johnson could garner a debate, though.

SJ:  This is nitpicking… if they were going to go the perimeter route, I would have suggested Dominique Jones over Williams. 

11. Most surprising trade?

NATHAN: Ryan Reid for Magnum Rolle. I’m surprised anyone cared. Why didn’t the Pacers just pick their obscure guy of choice in the first place? Did they forget the other guy existed?

COUP: Minnesota grabbing Webster. Kahn doesn’t appear to function correctly.

SJ: The Clippers getting Eric Bledsoe for a future first round pick. I was just surprised the Clippers made a really solid move. 

12. How trades and picks will impact free agency? 

NATHAN: Obviously, the Bulls and Heat trades are going to have a huge impact on free agency. The bidding wars for the best players on the planet starts July 1st.

COUP: The Heat were after Gomes’ contract for Beasley, so it will be interesting to see how that changes their plan to clear the last bit of cap space. Will they be calling to offer Beasley to Portland on the super cheap?

SJ: It’s all about the money. Hearing Tom Penn talk about how Miami could potentially have enough room to go after three MAX deals was jaw-dropping. Chicago, dropping Hinrich has put them in a great position. New York seems ready to pick up the pieces. It’s going to get really interesting in the next week or so. 

The Leftorium

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All the Blazers picks—Luke Babbitt, Eliot Williams and Armon Johnson—plus the newly traded for Ryan Gomes are all left-handed. Yup. Draft day analysis from the PRS. You heard it here first.

UPDATE:
Sorry Ned Flanders, turns out that Gomes is NOT a lefty. Our apologies to Gomes and southpaws everywhere.

With #34 Blazers Select Armon Johnson

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Johnson & Babbitt—teammates both drafted by the Blazers.

6’3” Point Guard. Via Draft Express:

Armon Johnson is one of the more dynamic and aggressive situational players in our ranks, but doesn’t stand out in terms of efficiency.

With an overall PPP of .837, Johnson ranks below average, though his 63% shooting in transition is good for third in this group. Unfortunately for Johnson, Nevada didn’t push the ball too frequently last season, as nearly 83% of his possessions came in half court situations.

When the game slowed down, Johnson took advantage of spot up situations, shooting a second ranked 48.7%, but did most of his damage one-on-one. Johnson’s 6.11 isolations possessions per-game is second to only Devan Downey, though his 0.716 PPP represents his sometimes over-assertive nature. The same is clear in his shot selection. Though he got to the rim 4.26 times each game, he shot 4.5 pull-ups as well (2nd). Considering he only made his 38.8 percent of his shots off the dribble, it is clear that Johnson is on the ball-dominant side, and will need to be a more efficient player in a smaller role on the next level.

With #22 Blazers Select Elliot Williams

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A Duke boy. Via Draft Express:

Elliot Williams does a number of things exceptionally well, and has the potential to be an efficient scorer if he improves some of his scoring tools.

Ranking right around average in terms of usage at 17.4 possessions per-game and slightly above average at 0.961 PPP overall, Williams’ best asset in comparison to his peers is his ability to use his quickness to get to the line. He was fouled on an impressive 14.2% of his overall shots, leading our sample of prospects by more than 3%.

Despite ranking right around average in terms of half court field goal percentage (42.2%), Williams scores on a higher percentage (45.4%) of his non-fast break possessions than any other player. Clearly, his first step plays a major role in his ability to create contact at the rim. His role for Memphis certainly helped as well.