Friday, May 23, 2008

Keep that pick

We're only three days removed from the draft lottery and I've already changed my mind. If you had asked me a week ago what Kevin Pritchard and the Blazers Front Office All-Stars should do with their pick in the draft, I would have said trade it away. Bring in a savvy veteran. Lets make a playoff push in 2009. Don't get younger.

But now?

I think we should keep the pick.

Dwight Jaynes thinks the pick should be sent off. Wendell Maxley (though he'll alway be "Wendell Maxley Jr." to me) makes historical arguments for both options. Brian Hendrickson argues that it's a buyer's market for picks this year. All are rational conclusions to come to, but they don't really speak to the reason why I think No. 13 should be Blazer come the '08-'09 season.

I've come to the opinion that we should keep the pick by analyzing the reason others have put forth to trade the pick. It's been easy to do, as I was solidly in the "trade the pick" camp since making the playoffs in '07-'08 became an impossibility. So I'm going to run down what I figure are the most prevalent "trade the pick" arguments with my own rebuttal.

Argument: Trade the pick for a proven veteran.

Certainly not a bad idea, and it's rather hard to argue against if you could get a nice player, but I have doubts regarding what caliber of player could be obtained with the 13th pick, even with the addition of addition roster guys. And in practice, it doesn't seem to happen all that often. Vets Ray Allen and Jason Richardson were traded during last year's draft for picks and various filler, but those were for picks five (Jeff Green) and eight (Brendan Wright). Pick 13 doesn't have the same cache. And the only reason the Wright/Richardson deal happened was due to Charlotte being way under the cap, a luxury the Blazers don't have this year.

The Blazers need starters. I think we can all agree on that. Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw, Joel Przybilla, Blake/Jack/Rodriguez, James Jones and Channing Frye make up one hellava bench unit. But does any combination of these guys along with the No. 13 get you a starting point guard? A starting small forward? Maybe, but it seems unlikely.

Can you get a player who will start right away in this year's draft? Probably not. But could that player be a starter in '09-'10? I think so.

Argument: A rookie won't help us make the playoffs this season.

Again, the crux of this argument is hard to refute. Expecting a rookie to impact the Blazers enough to push them into the playoffs is a stretch. That is something an acquired veteran might be able to do.

But here's the thing for me: I don't care about making the playoffs. I care about winning championships. Do I want the Blazers to get to the postseason in '09? Hells yeah! But I also want them to win big when they get there. Making the playoffs without having any real chance of winning the whole thing, in my opinion, is next to meaningless. Playoff experience helps build a foundation on which championships are won, but so does young talent cultivated through a franchise's system.

I don't think the Blazers are going to win a championship next year. Or the year after that. But three years from now? I think that's a real possibility. Very real. A rookie in '08-'09 is a third-year player in '10-'11 who is accustomed to Nate McMillan's system and his teammates. And in three years, Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden are your veterans.

Argument: A rookie won't be able to help this team in the near future.

This argument is a degree of the argument above. It's true that there is often a significant transitional period for rookies, but I would argue that this has more to do with lottery picks often playing for bad teams than it does with the player. The Blazers are in a unique position in that they're already an average to good team that happens to be in the lottery. The following is a list of players drafted in 2007 who are performed well on good teams.

Thaddeus Young (12th pick)
Julian Wright (13th pick)
Rodney Stuckey (15th pick)
Carl Landry (31st pick)
Glen Davis (35th pick)

Now expand that list to similar players from the 2006 draft.

Ronnie Brewer (14th pick)
Rajon Rondo (21st pick)
Jordon Farmar (26th pick)
Daniel Gibson (42nd pick)
Paul Milsap (46th pick)
Leon Powe (49th pick)

Not exactly an all-star team, but guys who play specific roles who are not asked to save their respective franchises. These are the kind of players we need and could utilize right away.

Argument: There are no impact players left at No. 13.

I simply disagree. The history of the 13th pick might not be all that impressive, but every year players fall to the second round who end up being solid to great players in the NBA. Trust in the Blazers scouting staff to figure out who could help this team down the road at No. 13.

Not to mention that KP rocks the draft. Period. Trading our top pick is like taking the ball out of the hands of your best player in crunch time.

The Blazers could use good veterans. Who couldn't? But if you take the long view, it just seems to me that getting the right guy out of the draft is a far better option in the long run. Trade existing players for veteran help, but use the No. 13 pick to add a young piece who will be a part of the team that wins a championship, not just a postseason birth.

21 comments:

Philski said...

Casey,
I think that with regard to the 13th pick, the question of whether to keep it or trade it away can only be answered by saying "it depends". It depends on who's available. I think that with the number of high quality 2nd round picks the Blazers have, it's much more likely that they will try to move up in the draft (into the top ten) to get someone they really like, who might otherwise be gone at 13.
James Jones had a huge positive impact on the Blazers this past year. Can the Blazers trade the 13th pick away and get a player in return who would be better than James Jones ? Can the Blazers trade the 13th pick away and get a player who would be better than Jarrett Jack ? I think the answer is NO on both accounts.
Can the Blazers draft someone in the top ten who will help them, not only this year to some extent, but also in the future to an even greater extent ? I definitely think so. I think that Russell Westbrook is a player who could have a very big positive impact on the Blazers, and I wouldn't mind having to use a No. 1 and and couple of No. 2 picks to get him.

Phil

Sophia said...

1.

I agree with you. We have our 'big 3' and they will be proven veterans in a couple years, lets let them get there.

2.

The Hawks made the playoffs as did the Raptors and Houston...no one cares about them tho. So yea, I dont wanna just make the playoffs- it would be stupid and pointless unless we meet the Lakers and BRoy breaks Kobe's ankles like 15 times a game...
:)

3.
KP is a cold calculator that is 8 steps ahead of everyone else. He isn't going to just draft a nobody as if he doesn't know exactly what he is doing by drafting that exact person... It's almost evil, but in a good way !

Casey Holdahl said...

You're right Phil. I didn't want to sound wishy-washy by making a statement like "We should keep the pick if a good player is available" but that's basically what it boils down to.

A also agree with your assessment when it comes to trading the pick. What always confuses me is when people say some thing to the extent of "There won't be a good player at 13, we should trade it for a good vet." So there's not a good player available, but that pick could be used to get a good player through trade? That don't make no sense.

I also agree about moving up and grabbing Westbrook. In fact, I'd rather use No. 13 and a player on the roster to move up. That, to me, is a much better option than using 13 and a player to get a veteran. I really think Westbrook could be the missing piece to this team. Fast, great defender, athletic, doesn't need to score to be effective, able to rebound from the guard position. He's tailor made for the Blazers.

Philski said...

Casey,
Here's something that I'd like to get your comment on. Most people would agree that the Blazers only needs are at the 1 and the 3. In terms of the Point, Brandon is going to have the ball in his hands for the majority of the 4th Quarter, as well as at other times during the game. That won't change, regardless of roster moves the Blazers make. Therefore, for at least 15 minutes a game or so, Brandon will be the Point Guard for the Blazers. Steve Blake had a very solid year, and I think that even if the Blazers were able to upgrade at the Point, Steve would continue to get at least 15 minutes running the team. If the Blazers don't upgrade, then Steve's minutes would go up to at least 25.

That means that, even when they're looking to contend for the Championship in a couple of years, the Blazers might only be looking for someone to be able to run the Point for about 8 to 18 minutes per game. The rest of the time that this Blazer-PG-of-the-future is on the floor, he'll have to be a threat as a spot-up shooter, or else teams will collapse on Brandon like they're collapsing on anyone not named Rajon Rondo for the Celtics. That's one of the reasons why Steve was so valuable for the Blazers this past year. He was a threat as a spot-up shooter when Brandon had the ball in his hands, and teams had to play Steve, which opened up space for Brandon.

Rudy has been compared to Manu Ginobli, and the comment that KP and company had after the trip to Spain in April was that, not only did they feel that Rudy could play well in the NBA at the 2, and possibly at the 3 (after hitting the weight room for a year or two), but that they could see Rudy getting some time at the 1 as well ! They also commented about how they thought that they could see that Rudy and Brandon should definitely be able to play well together, due to complimentary styles.

Even when Tony Parker is in the game, Manu Ginobli handles the ball for the Spurs quite a bit. Do you think that Rudy would be able to handle the ball for 10 to 15 minutes a game ? Do you think that Rudy would be a threat as a spot-up shooter during the times he didn't have the ball in his hands ? Should the Blazers significantly alter their roster (i.e giving up someone like Travis) to get a Point Guard, who realistically would only really be needed to run the team for 10 or 15 minues a game ? I wouldn't make any moves for another Point Guard (other than through the draft) until we see what Rudy can do with the ball in his hands.

Phil

Casey Holdahl said...

Rudy's ball handling is very comparable to Brandon Roy's. I don't think Rudy will ever be the distributor that you might want from a point guard (same for Roy) but he can handle the rock when needed. More of a penetrate and kick than a get the team into it's offense kind of pg.

As for the first part of your question, you still need someone who can d-up on opposing point guards. Steve's is an average defender and a great option off the bench, but I still think you need a legit starting pg. Roy is often times going to have the ball in his hands, but someone still has to check the Chris Paul's, Deron William's, Tony Parker's and Chauncey Billups' of the NBA.

Personally, I think we probably have a starting sf on our roster, be it Outlaw or Webster. Do we have a starting pg on the team, even with Roy handling the duties at times? I'm not so sure.

Mark said...

If that rookie is Westbrook, his defense in practice would instantly help the team, it would help Rudy adjust to NBA physicality, keep Roy/Blake/Sergio on their toes, and train the team to deal with pressure defense. I think just because a rookie isn't playing doesn't mean he isn't helping, which is what I'd tell those who want to trade the pick. A player who fills a void in practice might have larger ramifications in the long run than trading for a decent vet.

Philski said...

Casey,
I agree with your comment about the ability to defend the other premier PG's in the league (in particular in the West) being a concern, but here's a question for you. How would you rate Jose Calderon's defense ? I don't think he's nearly as good of a defender as Steve, but yet most people agree he'd be a great addition to the Blazers because of his high assist/turnover ratio and excellent shooting ability.

With Chicago getting the top pick, everyone is talking about Kirk Hinrich's availablity, assuming that Chicago takes Rose. Hinrich is an excellent defender, and I would rate him as a definite upgrade for the Blazers at PG. However, I don't know that I'd want to pay Hinrich $37 million over the next four years. That's a ton of money for someone who will not be a featured player.

Would you trade Jarrett and Raef for Hinrich ? Chicago probably wouldn't want to make that trade, because they'd like to get more for Hinrich, but I wouldn't want to give up too much, since the Blazers would be giving Chicago so much cap room for next Summer.

Phil

beamer138 said...

Regardless of what everyone says here, I think KP needs to evaluate trade offers and "younger" veteran PGs before doing anything. The guy that comes to mind that intrigues a lot of fans on Mike's blog is Devin Harris. From what I know and see of him, I feel he is the BEST young veteran point guard for the Blazers. He's tall, quick, athletic, can stick the J, run the break and play solid D. Therefore, KP must think long and hard about getting this guy on board. He is the missing piece that we need and is a proven player in this league who can be a top 5 point guard in a couple of years. Dallas was foolish to trade him away for Kidd. So what do you all think?? Harris is our man!

yellowman said...

I am a Jarrett Jack man. I looked at Chauncey Billups' stats his first few years in the league. Compare them to JJ's. I constantly read about trading JJ, but I don't read any analysis except his TO/Assist and his shooting percentage. Check out his EFF on NBA stats. I am not saying he will be spectacular but I think he will be efficient, "never say die" going to the basket , "dagger in your heart" at the foul line, and constantly trying to get better. I would like to see the acquisition of a high energy, athletic, power forward who can rebound and add "swagger"(physicality) off the bench, especially in the playoffs. I think the Blazers will need someone off the bench to defend Stoudamire, Howard, the Als (Jefferson and Horford) and other strong PFs to protect GO and LMA. Some names are Richard Hendrix, Marrese Speights, J. J. Hickson, Joey Dorsey, Nathan Jawai and D J White. All that being said, Westbrook would seem to be a great addition, would somebody take Sergio?

Eben Calder said...

Fernandez has to be factored in. Given his stroke and performance this year, most scouts indicate he'd be in the top 10, and possibly as high as the top 6 if he were in this years draft. His natural position is 2 guard, and the Blazers also believe he can play some point downstream and make an immediate contribution. And, he's not going to give up a $2 million to $3 million Europeon contract to make the Rookie salary here - and sit on the bench - so the Blazers have obviously put that fear to rest. This indicates that the Blazers are putting Roy at point because McMillan thinks he can mold Roy into that position. Add Oden, this years draft pick, and the fact that McMillan would also like another veteran, and you will need to move 4 current Blazers to make room for these players. However, you won't be adding a veteran starter because the full cap space doesn't come into play until La Frentz is moved - and Pritchard won't want to sacrifice that cap space this year. What you're left with is adding a veteran second tier player, and then the draft pick. Further, the PG position will not be the priority - rather, it will be SF. Now, if you want to move up to get the best SF available, then, you need to give something up, and LaFrentz, Jack and Von Wafer - those that are almost certainly gone - are not likely to give you that. This means Webster would likely be in the mix. After all, Outlaw will have to move to SF to get playing time, Jones is a vet that McMillan likes and gives you 3 pt shots, the draft pick will need to play, and Outlaw is more veratile because he can always step over to PF if Frye or Aldridge are injured. My bet is that the priority is a SF, and the best one in this draft appears to be Galinari - whose projected at 6. The others such as Alexander, etc., are more likely to be in the 11 - 15 range. So, we wheel and deal to move up. Then, if we're still not happy at PG, we make that move next year.

Wpadberg said...

We don't really need the muscle off the bench having "The Thrilla" whos able to play both PF & C and definately capable of providing toughness. Not sure that is our need. I like all the posts about drafting or seeking a point guard. Harris would be an amazing fit but the likeliness of freeing him up seems far fetched without moving one of our talented youngsters. Westbrook is also an excellent choice. My personal favorite is DJ Augustin. This kid is for real. He's a solid and true PG in every sense of the word. This kid was widely viewed as a top 1-2 PG, if not the top in leading Texas to a conference title over now champion Kansas. Had he not had a bad game against Rose and Memphis his exposure and worth might rank higher. Compare this kids stats to Chris Paul's college numbers. Same game. His court vision might not be that of Paul's, but whose is. DJ can penetrate at will, he's very quick, shoots the ball pretty well and is more of a pass first leader. I know a lot of people might disagree but he is gonna be a solid PG in the league for years. I think he is very capable of being like Paul or a Deron Williams.

Having said that, I am not criticizing anyone for their choices, just merely throwing a great name out there to consider. He's a can't miss prospect with a ton of upside.

Wpadberg said...

yellowman: I agree to some degree on JJ. He is a good solid player, but I think his spark off the bench is exactly what we need in our second unit. He is a score first PG, for our starting unit we don't need so much of that. The turnovers need improvement and his court vision isn't consistent enough in my opinion. But i'm just one opinion and I keep an open mind. His drive is unmatched i agree as well.

Casey: You couldn't have written a better blog. Bringing in a vet is not necessarily the answer. I myself think the same way for a couple of reasons: 1) What are we giving up and can we assure a veteran will mesh well with a group of youngsters who are growing together, 2) The free agency market will be much better next year and with all the freed up money we'll have it gives us better options. Drafting a Westbrook or a DJ Augustin over trading for a vet seems a better risk in my eyes.

KP is the mastermind and I trust in him fully. He knows our team better than any of us could possibly and having said that I will gladly accept whatever he does.

svoczech said...

Two words. Russell Westbrook. A guy who held OJ Mayo to 4 points. Can make immedeate impact defending at the 1 or 2 position. 6'3" "tweener" can play the one or two. Very athletic. Huge upside. Great role player complement next year, could grow into legit star next to Brandon in a year or two. McMillan loves defense, 'cause DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS! Worth moving up a little, and trading Jack or Blake to get.

Matt Goodspeed said...

I say don't trade for a veteran but if we could possible trade up for a better pick then go for it. But I wouldn't mind taken like Russel Westbrook or DJ Augustin at 13!!

mrblazer said...

I think trades need to happen this offseason. The last thing i think you'll see happen is KP simply standing pat. I know a lot of people say this team is fine how it is, but the reality is that we have too many players that are too valuable to be collecting splinters on the bench once you add in Oden and Rudy. That's not even bringing up Joel Freeland, either, who will be coming this year.

I think wasting assets just for depth's sake is pretty silly. Sure, good teams have good players coming from the bench. However, it is just ridiculous to have guys like Frye never getting off the bench, which is what we will have plenty of if we just stand pat.

Since there is going to be trades, why not the 13th pick? It's an asset as tradable, if not more tradable, as any other we have and are willing to trade. If it doesn't make sense, than keep it. I would think, though, that it would be less than prudent for KP to have the mindset to not include it in a trade package.

On the other hand, be prepared to use it. And if there is one thing i'm not worried about, it's that KP will not prepared. If he does nothing else, he does his homework when it comes to the draft.

Keep it or trade it. Personally, i don't really care. Either way, though, i just don't want to see a waste of assets, the pick included.

mrblazer said...

Casey,

Just wanted to add that you seem much more informed, now, than when you did the blazer blog at Oregonlive.com. Is it because you have had more time to devote to informing yourself about the league and the blazers than when you had duties in different areas for oregonlive? Maybe it's just from covering the blazers for a few years. Whatever the reason, i can honestly say that you've come a long way from when you took over for Marentette.

Also, i wanted to add that while Rudy does possess very good ball-handling, i think saying it is "comparable" to Roy's is an overstatement. Rudy relies more on getting his opponent off-balance and using the very little bit of daylight he needs to get his shot off. Sometimes Rudy even says to hell with daylight and just takes it, anyway. He's fearless. However, he doesn't have the wicked crossover and moves that Brandon does.

rogerdparker said...

Here is my take on this subject. You don't do anything but pick because, It is a low cost gamble, and who knows we might get lucky and draft a really good player at 13. If not, we could make a trade when we have more salary cap next season. Either way, we don't need a quick fix. p.s. keep Jack, he can get to the basket at will. I think he has improved a lot. There are turnovers, but like Drexler Said "If you show me player that has no turnovers than, I'll show you a player that is not doing anything."

Philski said...

Casey,
While the Blazers currently own the 13th pick in the Draft, I would very seriously doubt if the Blazers stand pat and draft 13th. Most teams have the philosophy of trying to draft the best player they can with the draft pick they own. KP's philosophy seems to be to identify the player he likes, and then do what is necessary to draft that player (or players, in the case of LaMarcus & Brandon).

The Blazers have the 3rd and 6th picks in the second round. A high second round pick is often much more valuable to teams than a low first round pick. The players drafted in the first round have guaranteed contracts, while those in the second round do not.

How high could the Blazers move up in the Draft if they offered a package of the 13th, 33rd & 36th picks, as well as a player ? Could they get the No. 3 pick from Minnesota ? The short answer is that it probably depends on the player. What do you think ?

Phil

Casey Holdahl said...

Wow. Lots of fantastic comments. Lets see if I can answer a couple.

Phil: I think Calderon's defense is decent. Not spectacular, but decent. The way I see it, the Blazers either need an elite defender or an elite distributor and shooter at the pg position. Calderon qualifies.

In regards to Hinirich, I think he's a decent player, but overpriced. He's also coming off a terrible year, which makes me leery.

beamer138: Harris is a nice option to have at point guard. Other than an unreliable outside shot, he's got just about everything you'd want in a young point guard.

mrblazer: Thanks for the compliment. I think my improvement has a little to do with all of the things you mentioned. Being in the organization, getting to focus on the NBA and just learning from others as I've gotten older have all helped.

And your right about Rudy's ballhandling versus Roy's.

rogerdparker: I think the problem people have with Jack is that his turnovers seem to come at the worst possible times. I have no idea whether that's just bad luck or systemic of something else.

phil: Using the second-rounders to move up would probably be the best possible outcome for the Blazers. I don't think 13, 33 and 36 get you the third pick, but maybe 9 or 10. I don't think it's necessary to move all the way up to 3 unless you're deadset on a guy like Mayo or Bayless.

futurenba23 said...

I think that with the depth of this draft, we can still get a quality player who can make a big impact next year with the 13th pick. If there's gonna be any trading involving this pick, it will either be to move up (to perhaps pick up Danilo Gallinari or Russell Westbrook) or to move back (to pick up Chase Budinger, Mareese Speights, or Joe Alexander)
I personally would love to see Portland package Jarrett Jack, Channing Frye, and the #13 pick to trade for the #9 pick (owned by Charlotte who could still pick up the center they want in Javale McGee or maybe even DeAndre Jordan at #13.), and take Russell Westbrook, who I think could be a real sleeper in this draft. The only problem I see with drafting Westbrook is that it may lower the interest of Rudy Fernandez to come play for Portland, as Westbrook would automatically compete for the starting PG job, keeping BRoy at SG, and virtually placing Fernandez on the bench.
The way I see Portland using this pick, is to stay put, as hard as it may sound with KP running the draft day show. If they do stay, I think the player KP will target is Joe Alexander, the SF out of West virginia. He's an athletic SF, with great shooting skills, and a passion for the game.

futurenba23 said...

I can't really see Portland trading this pick for a veteran player, but they could package this pick with someone like Jarrett Jack or Channing Frye or both, to move up to #9 and draft Russell Westbrook or maybe even Danilo Gallinari if he slips.
As much as I love Russell Westbrook, the possibilities of pairing him with Roy would be amazing, i can't see Portland going that way, as it would most likely discourage Rudy Fernandez to coming to join the team. Westbrook would automatically compete for the starting PG job, sliding BRoy back to SG and virtually forcing Fernandez to sit on the bench.
There are a couple ways I can see KP going:
1) If Danilo Gallinari is still available at 8,9,10 then KP would most likely try to trade up to draft him, packaging the #13 pick with Jack and Frye.
2) If Gallinari is off the board, I could see KP staying put at #13 and drafting Joe Alexander, who I think could be a real sleeper in this draft with his A+ athleticism and great shooting skills.
As much as I love Russell Westbrook, I can't see Portland messing up there starting backcourt of Rudy Fernandez at SG and Roy running the point when you could get someone like Galinari or Alexander who could fill that SF spot for the next decade.