Mock Draft Roundup: Trail Blazers' Options At No. 16
Last week, the league office admitted what everyone in the NBA already knew: the 2020 NBA Draft would not be held on October 16 as originally (re)scheduled. With COVID-19 still circulating in the United States, the traditional predraft process of working out and interviewing players probably won't be happening this year and there's no clear indication what, if anything, is going to replace that process. There are reports that the league will attempt to hold a two-day virtual draft combine sometime in the next month and will shoot for holding the 2020 Draft on November 16, though even those plans are still tentative (UPDATE: the 2020 Draft will now be held on November 18). That's 2020 for you.
But while we may not know when the Draft is going to happen, we do know the Trail Blazers have two selections -- the 16th and 46th overall picks -- waiting for them when the event eventually takes place. The consensus seems to be that the 2020 class is short on All-Star caliber talent -- there's no agreement on who will go with the top pick and there's already more chatter about teams trading selections in the early lottery than we typically hear -- though that probably suits a team selecting just outside of the lottery.
• Kevin O'Connor at The Ringer has the Trail Blazers selecting 6-6 sophomore forward Aaron Nesmith out of Vanderbilt...
16. Portland Trail Blazers: Aaron Nesmith (Wing, Vanderbilt)
What a gift Nesmith would be for the Blazers. He’s a knockdown shooter who could develop into a solid defender. If Gary Trent Jr. can excel in Portland, then so could Nesmith.
Nesmith averaged 23.0 points on 51 percent shooting from the field and 52 percent shooting from three, 4.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals this season for the Commodores.
• Sam Vecenie at The Athletic has Portland selecting 6-9 freshman forward/center Precious Achiuwa out of Memphis in his most reent mock draft...
Precious Achiuwa | 6-9 forward/center | 20 years old, freshman | Memphis
Same pick as before. The Blazers will always take the guy they think has the most upside. They have a need in the frontcourt in terms of athleticism and defensive prowess. Achiuwa fits both of those bills. I will note, though, that Achiuwa is all over the board for teams that I talk to. Some worry about his offensive fit and think he’s just a pure 5 at the next level. Others see him as someone they can mold into being an option at the 4.
Achiuwu averaged 15.8 points on 49 percent shooting from the field, 33 percent shooting from three and 60 percent shooting from the free throw line, 10.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 1.1 steals and 1.0 assists in 30.4 minutes per game this season for the Tigers.
• Jon Givony at ESPN hasn't updated his mock draft since the lottery, but the most recent iteration has the Trail Blazers selecting 6-3 freshman guard Tyrese Maxey out of Kentucky...
Portland might be looking to bolster its backcourt depth after seeing Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum finish in the top three in the NBA in minutes played. Maxey is a versatile guard with the size, strength and length to play either backcourt position, and he's an instinctual scorer who brings physicality and toughness to the defensive end.
Maxey averaged 14.0 points on 43 percent shooting from the field and 29 percent shooting from three, 4.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 34.5 minutes per game this season for the Wildcats.
• The folks at CBS Sports have a number of their analysts make draft predictions, most of which can be found below.
Kyle Boone has the Trail Blazers selecting 6-10 sophomore center Jalen Smith out of Maryland...
Portland can add a new and interesting wrinkle to its already-great offense with the addition of Jalen Smith, the Maryland big man. Smith can step out and knock down 3-pointers at a high clip but can also pull up and score above the break like a guard. He made 37% of his 3-pointers last season at Maryland while doubling his blocks per game on defense, at 2.4, making him one of the most unique dual-threat bigs in this class.
Smith averaged 15.5 points on 54 percent shooting from the field and 37 percent shooting from three, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 31.3 minutes per game this season for the Terrapins.
Matt Norlander has Portland selecting 6-9 freshman center Isaiah Stewart out of Washington...
There's not a lot of difference between Isaiah Stewart and Achiuwa, so where these players get picked will depend on which team is seeking a rebound-first, true power forward and how close the next team seeking that same need to fulfill falls in the draft. Stewart's numbers were good in his one season at Washington. He was irrefutably one of the three or four best freshmen in college basketball in 2019-20. He was Washington's only really good player, the kind of power forward who has the ability to carry a team for multiple stretches of games. Unfortunately he's the next Washington player to come out of a season with a sub-.500 record. But Stewart is motor-motor-motor. He's exceptionally strong and, when we look up 10 years from now, will likely wind up being one of the three best rebounders from this draft.
Stewart averaged 17.0 points on 57 percent shooting from the field and 77 percent shooting from the free throw line, 8.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 32.2 minutes per game this season for the Huskies.
Colin Ward-Henninger has the Trail Blazers selecting Precious Achiuwa out of Memphis...
The Blazers aren't likely to retain Hassan Whiteside, so they'll happily snatch up Achiuwa if he falls to them at No. 17. An elite athlete and rim protector with a 7-2 wingspan, Achiuwa could be so much more than that if his offensive skills continue to develop. His shooting form suggests he might be able to hit 3s consistently at some point in his career, though that's probably a long way off. Mostly he'll bring energy and defense, two things the Blazers need off the bench.
• Corey Rausch at Hoops Habit has the Trail Blazers selecting 6-8 sophomore forward Saddiq Bey out of Villanova with the 16th pick...
The biggest thing the Portland Trail Blazers were lacking in their seeding games were a 3-and-D wing. Carmelo Anthony played admirably but the team did miss Trevor Ariza. Adding Saddiq Bey gives them someone at that position that could make an impact immediately.
The ceiling may be lower than a team just outside of the lottery would hope for but Bey is a dead-eye shooter (45.0 percent from long range) and is a smart defensive player. The word “overachiever” is thrown around often, fitting in perfectly with the personality of this team.
Bey averaged 16.1 points on 48 percent shooting from the field and 45 percent shooting from three, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 33.9 minutes per game this season for the Wildcats.
• Ian Levy at Fansided also has Portland selecting Saddiq Bey with the 16th overall pick...
The Trail Blazers seem to have they everything they need right now but adding depth in Bey’s skill areas — spot-up 3-point shooting and defensive versatility across the 3 and the 4 — are always welcome.
• Raphielle Johnson at Rotoworld has Portland selecting Memphis center Precious Achiuwa...
The Trail Blazers are in good shape on the perimeter, with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum leading the way and young guards Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons continuing to develop. And there are more names in the mix as well, so it’s highly unlikely that Portland adds another guard/wing to the mix. Achiuwa makes sense here, as he’s a highly active forward that doesn’t lack for athleticism and he also holds his own as a rebounder/defender. Add in the fact that Carmelo Anthony and Hassan Whiteside will be unrestricted free agent, and the Blazers will likely go frontcourt with this pick.