The Portland Trail Blazers finished 7th in the 2022 NBA Draft Lottery results. They had hoped the ping pong balls would be kinder to them, but it was not to be. The 37% chance of moving up to the Top 4 proved inferior to the 30% chance of ending up with exactly the pick they did. It was the single highest probability for any given slot, and it happened.
Portland fans are somewhat disappointed, but is all hope lost? Let’s take a look through the lens of this question submitted to the Blazer’s Edge Mailbag.
I know you don’t allow swearing at Blazersedge so just replace this with asterisks. 7th??? What the **** do we do now? All this for 7th? Can we get a player there who will help right now? **** **** ****
You’re right that this isn’t the result the Blazers were hoping for, especially after a long half-season of angling for a prime lottery position.
A month ago, Portland lost out on New Orleans’ pick from the CJ McCollum trade by virtue of the Pelicans making the playoffs. A better outcome would have given them two mid-to-low level lottery picks, which would have increased their flexibility by 100%. But if they couldn’t have two picks, the Blazers wanted the one they owned to hit big. It didn’t. They were pushed down a spot from 6th to 7th. The value distance between 7 and 3 is enormous and again, not favorable for Portland.
Given Portland’s situation, there’s little chance they’ll find the perfect player with the pick they hold. Ideally they’d get a “now and later” candidate, someone with a clear path to stardom who could also contribute as a rookie. Those players usually go in the Top 3. Since the Blazers didn’t get there, they’ll probably have to choose between now OR later.
The Blazers don’t have the freedom to pick for positional need, but even choosing the “best player available” depends on your definition of “best”. Does it mean most NBA-ready? That’s the Damian Lillard, win now timeline. Or does it mean highest potential ceiling? That’s the insurance, long-term growth approach.
I don’t foresee them solving that conundrum by executing the pick, but not all hope is lost! They might not have to.
The 7th overall pick falls right in the Goldilocks Zone for trades. It’ll be easier to find a “now and later” player among known NBA commodities than among this year’s draftees. The Blazers might not get as much raw talent as they could in the draft, but making a trade for a proven commodity, they’d be assured of being able to use the talent they do get to near-maximum capacity.
The 7th selection is too high to exchange for Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant. If the Blazers want to go that route, they probably get it done another way. But it’s high enough that, with extra talent traded, they should be able to pull a modest star or high-ceiling young player from another team.
So perk up, JT. That pick is still an asset. As they begin to examine this year’s draft class, Portland fans will want to consider the possibility that their team selects for someone else on June 23rd, and that help is coming in the form of a swap as opposed to a rookie star.