Trail Blazers 2020 Draft Grades

by Casey Holdahl
Follow @chold

Unless you're one of the few individuals with the ability to transcend time and space, assigning grades to a team's draft performance any time within the first few months of the selection is, by and large, an exercise in futility. While there are certainly rare cases in which one can state emphatically that a draft selection is an unqualified success, such as the Cavaliers selecting LeBron James with the first overall pick, or failure, like when the Timberwolves selected Tanguy Ngombo, who was five years older than Minnesota realized and not draft eligible, it's all but impossible to divine the quality of an NBA career before it has even had a chance to start. That fact sure doesn't stop people from trying, but while it's not and especially useful, there's no real harm to it either.

So with that out of the way, here's how those who cover the NBA Draft graded the Trail Blazers' performance in Wednesday night's event, which saw Portland select Washington's Isaiah Stewart (reportedly as a part of the deal to acquire Robert Covington from Houston) with the 16th overall pick and Washington State wing CJ Elleby with the 46th pick.

• John Hollinger and Sam Vecenie, The Athletic...

Vecenie’s scouting report: Yeah I never have really gotten what the NBA’s appeal is with Elleby. He doesn’t really finish at the basket, he’s not an elite shooter, and he’s not a particularly good defender. He has shooting upside which is why I ranked him at No. 85, but I think what we’re seeing here is that teams are taking players who are agreeable to their terms only (such as two-way and contracts with long-term team control with only one guaranteed season), as opposed to the best players on the board.

Rank: No. 85

Hollinger’s team fit: I don’t really see it here but if the Blazers were hell-bent on taking a wing the ranks are pretty thin at this point. Elleby shot 33.1% on 2s in Pac-12 games — that’s not a typo — but he rebounds well for a guard.

• Scott Gleeson, USA Today...

24. Portland Trail Blazers (C-). The only major pick was at No. 46 with CJ Elleby of Washington State. They traded away the No. 16 pick, Isaiah Stewart, to Detroit. In exchange, Portland landed Robert Covington from Houston in the three-way deal.

• Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports...

The Blazers traded the No. 16 pick in the Robert Covington deal, so that left them with Elleby, a prolific but inefficient scorer, in the second round. There were still some solid options available when the Blazers took him (Elleby was ranked 75th on our Big Board), so Portland could have done better in adding to its wing depth. Grade: C+

• Gerald Bourguet, Fansided...

The Blazers did their heavy lifting for the draft earlier in the week when they sent their No. 16 pick to the Rockets for Robert Covington. Even without a first-round selection on Wednesday night, that’s an excellent use of draft capital to finally give Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum the defensive wing they need to legitimately start climbing that Western Conference ladder.

Grade: A-

• Greg Joyce, New York Post...

Elleby averaged 18.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 39.6 percent from the field last season, but he may have been a bit of a reach.

Grade: C-

• Michael Shapiro, SI.com...

Portland Trail Blazers: C

Washington State product C.J. Elleby has an impressive shooting stroke, but he’s a bit slight with middling athleticism. This is a Portland team that needs more heft and physicality alongside its two leading guards. Elleby doesn’t provide that. Perhaps he’ll find a way to make an impact on the professional level.

• Zach Buckley, Bleacher Report...

It was a tale of two seasons for CJ Elleby at Washington State, at least as far as his long-range shooting was concerned.

After hitting a blistering 41.4 percent of his threes as a freshman, his conversion rate sank to 33.9 percent as a sophomore. It was the opposite at the foul line, where he shot 82.3 percent in 2019-20 but a woeful 66.1 percent the season prior.

There are mechanical issues with his jumper that make you think the inconsistency might be around for the long haul. If he can get those ironed out, though, he might find some minutes as a spark-plug scorer.

Grade: C-

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