Portland Trail Blazers could draft Jonathan Isaac (red) || Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
The Portland Trail Blazers should try to package their three first-round picks in the 2017 NBA Draft in order to move up into the lottery.
The Portland Trail Blazers have three first round picks in the 2017 NBA Draft. If a potential deal with the Indiana Pacers for Paul George doesn’t materialize by draft day on June 22, the next best option would be to package those three first-rounders in an attempt to move up into the lottery.
The Blazers will likely start to be a tax team this season, which means Portland will be relying on both their mid-level tax exception and their 2017 draft picks to add value depth for the upcoming season.
Here are three guys the Portland Trail Blazers should consider trading up for in the draft.
Jonathan Isaac || F || 19 years old || 6’11” || 205 lbs.
In 32 games for Florida State, Jonathan Isaac averaged 12.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.5 blocks in 26.2 minutes. He shot 50.8 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from behind the arc.
Isaac may not be the most NBA-ready prospect of the bunch, but basketball pundits project him as having a high ceiling due to his physical tools and natural fit on the wing. Think Kevin Durant, but without the “unstoppable scorer” trait.
That’s not to say he’s incapable of developing a potent offensive game. Isaac’s size has translated to the kind of versatility that allows him to play multiple positions offensively — something that’s become so heavily coveted in today’s NBA — though he would need to add a bit more weight to play the 5-spot.
However, it’s really his defensive ability that really sets him apart. Per Draft Express:
“Beyond the sheer length and athleticism to chase down blocks from the weakside or force turnovers on the perimeter, Isaac also displays impressive quick foot speed on the perimeter. He does a good job of getting down in a stance and moving his feet, and has the length and quickness to recover and contest a shot if he elects to sag off his man on the perimeter. This gives him both the ability to pressure ball handlers with his length to try to force turnovers, but also the option to play back, cut off driving angles, and recover if he’s at a quickness disadvantage.”
In addition, Isaac displays a high motor on the glass, evidenced by the fact he averaged 11.5 rebounds per 40 minutes.
The Portland Trail Blazers could use some added defense and rebounding. To have a chance at adding all that and more by drafting Isaac, they’d need to hope he drops to the end of the lottery and that a team like the Dallas Mavericks, Charlotte Hornets or Detroit Pistons would be willing to move back and accept Portland’s No. 15, No. 20 and No. 26 overall selections.
Jayson Tatum || SF || 19 years old || 6’8″ || 204 lbs.
In 29 games for Duke, Jayson Tatum averaged 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks in 33.3 minutes. He shot 45.2 percent from the field and 34.2 percent from behind the arc.
Tatum is another guy that would give the Blazers some added defense and rebounding, which is something the Blazers desperately need going into next season. With a 6-foot-11 wingspan and a nose for securing rebounds, Tatum has the potential to move interchangeably between the 3 and the stretch-4 spot at the NBA level.
That being said, it’s difficult seeing how Tatum’s offensive game would fit alongside Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, all of whom are solid scorers. Tatum has a wide assortment of offensive moves, displaying the ability to score both inside the paint and out beyond the arc. Whether he’s coming off the dribble or spotting up, Tatum has a knack for putting the ball in the basket.
A team could never have too many offensive creators or two-way players, but Tatum would be better off going to a franchise that could offer him a better role into which he could develop. This would also require the Blazers to find a team in the top 10 willing to trade all the way back to 15, 20 and 26.
Nevertheless, he could be a great option to consider should the Blazers be unable or unwilling to take a chance on Jonathan Isaac.
OG Anunoby || F || 19 years old || 6’8″ || 215 lbs.
OG Anunoby played 16 games for Indiana, averaging 11.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks in 25.1 minutes. He shot 55.7 percent from the field and 31.1 percent from behind the arc.
While Draft Express lists him as a potential lottery pick, Bleacher Report has Anunoby going at 20, and NBADraft.net has him going as late as 40. This only confirms how much of a wild card Anunoby is after tearing his right ACL back in January.
But like the last two prospects in this list, Anunoby has the potential to be a solid two-way player. His 7-foot-2 wingspan is a major plus on the defensive end. Coupled with his strength and agility, Anunoby has the ability to play multiple positions, even the 5.
“Defensively is where Anunoby has a chance to be an absolute difference-maker at the NBA level. He has prototypical physical tools with his elite combination of size, length, strength and mobility, and demonstrated the ability to defend all five positions at the college level when he was dialed in and operating at maximum intensity.
“Indiana liked to put him on point guards, and he’s extremely disruptive to an opposing team’s offensive flow with his ability to sit down in a stance and keep smaller players in front with his excellent lateral quickness. He’s difficult for guards to shoot over with his gigantic reach, often blocking shots on the perimeter thanks to his excellent closeout speed, and also getting in the passing lanes at a terrific rate.”
Of course, Anunoby’s success at the next level is entirely predicated on how he comes back from his injury, not to mention he’s not projected to be as polished offensively as the other two aforementioned prospects.
The bigger question here, though: is Anunoby worth packaging three first-rounders, or could the Portland Trail Blazers take a gamble and wait for him to slide to 26? The Blazers have drafted enough injury-prone guys in the lottery. No need to add another name to that list.