The Portland Trail Blazers are desperate to use the window to win with Mrs. Lillard. The 31-year-old has only reached the conference semifinals once and was swept by the Warriors in that series. Lillard has remained blindly loyal to the team, and the Blazers are determined to reward him. Lillard has only missed 29 games this season due to an abdominal injury. Portland finished the season with a 27-55 record but didn’t get the draft pick they hoped for. Sir Lillard’s reaction when it was announced that they would acquire the No. 7 pick was convincing.
Damian Lillard’s reaction after Blazers landed No. 7 in NBA draft lottery
Is he happy? 😅pic.twitter.com/9xxxUAqtC7
— Clutch Points (@ClutchPointsApp) May 18, 2022
While the Blazers certainly have more work to do than draft, that will be their top priority. There’s been a lot of talk about Portland trading picks in exchange for winning veterans. This certainly makes sense given the current state of the team and the goals at hand. However, there are plenty of talented players in this draft that should be traded cautiously by the Blazers. If they end up using the option, they have to make sure to add a player who can make an immediate impact and raise the team ceiling. Here are three who don’t fall into that category and the Blazers should avoid.
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2022 NBA Draft prospects the Blazers must avoid
No player has more question marks around Shaedon Sharpe. The 6-foot-5 guard has fascinating skills, but there’s little evidence he’s ready to put them together. Sharp was named No. 1 in the high school class of 2022 before being reclassified to join the current rookies. He enrolled at the University of Kentucky in January with the intention of playing, but was never fit to play.
While his absurd athleticism and interesting highlights are tempting, Sharpe will make a very tough leap in the game. His last famous reality show was in high school. The NBA is a different beast, and even seasoned college players aren’t always ready. The 19-year-old may still have a bright career, but it will take a few years for him to settle down. The Blazers don’t have that kind of time at their disposal, and Sharp is better suited for a team that doesn’t have such a rushed schedule.
There’s a lot to like about Johnny Davis. The Wisconsin guard was a dynamic scorer and one of the best players in college basketball last season. A valuable guard, he averaged 19.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists. Davis is 20 years old and athletic. His well-rounded nature of the game has a lot of appeal at the NBA level, and many teams are lining up to draft him.
The Portland Trail Blazers shouldn’t be one of those teams. As interesting as Johnny Davis is, he’s far from the missing piece on a championship team. His ball-dominant nature and perimeter-oriented game will be repeated next to Mrs. Lillard. The Blazers should learn their lesson that pairing Lillard with another point guard is not the path to a championship. While CJ McCollum’s time in Portland was great, that didn’t translate to playoff success. Adding Johnny Davis to the current roster raises similar concerns, and it’s not what the organization needs.
Mrs. Lillard has never played with a player of Jalen Durham’s size and athleticism. Huge 7′ with a 7’5″ wingspan to jump out of the gym. He’s been impressive and a game-changing shot-blocker. Durham averaged 12 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game in his only season in Memphis. While his defense is sure to be impactful and there will be some exciting dunks, there are too many holes in Durham’s overall game.
The 18-year-old is still in the early stages of his developmental process and has a lot of development work to do. Durham reclassified in order to travel to Memphis a year early. While he can dominate on the defensive end and his rebounding translates instantly, there is very little on the offensive end. Durham can catch almost any lob thrown at him, but that has to do with his offensive ability. The Montevideo product is averaging just 0.77 points per possession on post-up chances and is shooting 40 percent from the field on those attempts. He also has some fouling concerns that could surface at the NBA level. Getting Mrs. Lillard some frontcourt help should be one of the Blazers’ priorities. However, an 18-year-old who doesn’t have much offensive play shouldn’t be a target.
As a team, the Blazers are currently in a difficult position. They’re dangerously close to wasting the prime of the team’s best player and have few assets to restructure. Taking advantage of the No. 7 pick is critical to giving teams a chance to compete. Staying away from these three players is where they should start first.