Around the Association: 2010 NBA Draft Previews - Portland Trailblazers: Odin a bigger impact than Oden?

Anthony Hopkins is set to play Odin, in the movie Thor, to be released 5/6/2011. Will Greg Oden be back by then? (via www.ambienceofmedia.com)

13 days until the 2010 NBA Draft! 328 days until the theatrical release of Thor! ___ days until Greg Oden returns? 

Let's take a peek at the Portland Trail Blazers and who they might be drafting with their 22nd and 44th picks.

As I look up and down their HoopsHype Salaries report, I can't help but notice that their frontline (the injuries being the big story of 2009-10 for them) is entirely predicated on two guys recovering from knee surgeries: Oden and Joel Przybilla. Plus, they acquired Marcus Camby.

So even in the BlazersEdge draft debate, there are a lot of questions as to which direction the Blazers should move. Draft big because of the injuries, or assume Oden and Przybilla will be back at some point and fill in the holes?

And when do you think Oden comes back, and I mean back to at least the level he was playing before his second knee injury? I sure hope it's before Odin comes back -- that'd be Anthony Hopkins, set to play the character of Odin, Thor's dad in the next big Marvel (or should I say Disney) flick, Thor. Can't wait! I mean, for Thor. No offense, Blazer fans, but May 6, 2011, baby!

But seriously, sometimes I look at the rosters for 2010-11, such as the Charlotte Bobcats, and it is only through this team-by-team analysis that I actually don't feel as sorry for our Golden State Warriors as I normally do... 

Granted, Portland may still win more games than the Dubs no matter what -- I think those days are over, don't you, Mr. Ellison? -- but there is great worry over there in the Northwest. As a commenter put it in that BlazersEdge post: 

[Two Portland centers] are recovering from major, potentially catastrophic knee injuries. The third has missed a lot of games in his career due to injuries, and is in his mid-30’s. A rookie center wouldn’t cost you a lot of money at the slot the Blazers have in the draft.

Let's take a look at who's committed, and who's not, for 2010-11 thus far...

COMMITTED MAYBE OUT?
pg Andre Miller
Jerryd Bayless
Patty Mills
sg Brandon Roy
Rudy Fernandez
sf Martell Webster
Nicolas Batum
pf LaMarcus Aldridge
Juwan Howard
Dante Cunningham
Jeff Pendergraph
c Marcus Camby
Greg Oden
Joel Przybilla

I'm not sure if I can call Fernandez a shooting guard and Webster a small forward, but that's how they're listed. Webster was draining threes on the Warriors when I covered that game back in January at the Rose Garden. In my book, that's a pretty capable shooting guard out there whose ceiling seems to be that of Jason Richardson.

Staying on the small forward tip, I continue to have my doubts about Batum until he can gain some more muscle mass. To me, a small forward doesn't necessarily think "shoot first" when he's near the arc, he can hit a midrange jumper, but most important, he can crash both ends on the boards and have enough strength to occasionally play the 4 if you are going small.

That being said, I think Portland is thin at small forward and maybe even power forward. HoopsHype has Cunningham, Pendergraph, and Mills with no salary data (someone help me out here) for 2010-11, so I'm assuming they can be dropped if they find better talent. And I think there is better talent in the Draft.

Here's what the mocks have...

No. 22 pick

  • NBAdraft.net: Elliot Williams (sg, 6'4", 180, Memphis, sophomore). Woah. Shooting guard? I think Portland's okay at shooting guard (B.Roy, Rudy, Martell). I know, I know. You're supposed to draft the best player available. First of all, I'm not sure that Williams is the "BPA" at #22. Secondly, I'm not entirely bought into that draft philosophy. It's certainly true the majority of the time for the first three picks, but after that, I think it totally depends on your team and what your risk tolerance is. The easiest and most glaring example is when the Los Angeles Lakers took James Worthy over Dominique Wilkins in the 1982 NBA Draft, something I will blog about in due time. At this point in time, I don't think Portland is in a position to be drafting BPA. They have to be ultra-careful with this particular roster. FWIW, Williams is at #26 on DraftExpress and #25 on Chad Ford's board.
  • DraftExpress: Kevin Seraphin (pf/c, 6'9", 258, France, 20 yrs old). I think DraftExpress is kind of touting one of their own here. They've always been strong with the international evaluation, though. NBAdraft.net has Seraphin at #26 and Chad Ford has him at #23. I think it's a good pick, again due to the uncertainty of the health of Oden and Przybilla. I don't have any further information on Seraphin, although I do find the DraftExpress listing of him at center rather curious. I wonder if that means he has some solid post moves?
  • Chad Ford: Patrick Patterson (pf, 6'8", 245, Kentucky, junior). Woah. Patterson, who's predicted to be selected at #11 on DraftExpress and #6 on NBAdraft.net, plummets to #22. Really? BTW, #6 is the Warriors, don't forget! I think Patterson would be an absolute steal for the Blazers at #22. Ever since I saw him in private workouts last summer, I've been calling him Baby Amar'e and with good reason. He can spot up, he attacks the rim, he's relentless in the paint and doesn't give up, he's not afraid of anybody, and he's developing his outside face-up jumper. I'd almost say that he has more skills than when Amare Stoudemire himself was drafted, albeit you can't teach height! I am concerned that Patterson may be reaching his ceiling, which may be the reason for Ford's low ranking. I am also concerned by the DraftExpress discovery that his rebounding rate is rather subpar. You wouldn't believe the subpar rebounding rate numbers if you saw him banging down low in person, though.

No. 44 pick

  • NBAdraft.net: Dwayne Collins (pf, 6'8", 241, Miami, senior). I've been keeping a close eye on the mock draft boards all season long, and this guy all of a sudden pops up on NBAdraft.net's board. I have no idea who he is. I like the power forward selection, but I see some others on the board beyond #44 that appeal to me more: Charles Garcia, a skilled big who reminds me of Thaddeus Young; Dexter Pittman, who has been overweight a lot but would be a good complement to the skinny Camby; and Luke Harangody, who is a versatile big that would fit well with the other well-rounded players Portland has.
  • DraftExpress: Latavious Williams (pf, 6'8", 190, NBDL, freshman). I think Williams is more of a project and, as I mentioned before, I don't think Portland has the luxury or the fan pressure to draft a project right now, because everybody will be treating the wait on Oden and Przybilla as not one, but two, in-progress projects. DraftExpress also has Garcia and Harangody picked after Williams on their mock, and while I like Duke's Brian Zoubek as a late second-rounder, 44th is too high to pick him when they can gamble that he'll be available to bring into training camp as an undrafted free agent.
  • Chad Ford: does not project 2nd round picks.

BTW, do you think Juwan Howard gets picked up by some team in 2010-11?

NEXT: San Antonio Spurs

PREVIOUS:
NYK - What if they don't get any marquee free agents? (38th, 39th picks)
OKC - Drafting bigs? (21st, 26th, 32nd, 51st picks)
LAL - D-Fish most talked about this summer? (43rd, 58th picks)
BOS - Oh Danny boy! (19th, 52nd picks)
PHX - Shoring up behind Amare? (46th, 60th picks)
ATL - Calling all shooting guards not named Joe (24th, 53rd picks)
ORL - Improving while Dwight improves (29th, 59th picks)
DAL - Depends on Dirk and Dampier dollars (50th, 57th picks)
CHA - S-Jax stuck (no draft picks)
DEN - Just need Coach Karl back? (no draft picks)
CLE - If you leave (no draft picks)

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