There has been a lot of criticism about the Blazers’ two draft picks, Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. The Blazers only had the 24th overall draft pick, and then traded into the second round for the 37th overall pick. These are two guards who have some promise, but are also very raw.
Unless the roster changes dramatically, they will be playing behind one of the best backcourts in the NBA of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. I’m here to tell you that the criticism is ridiculous.
First, let’s remember who is drafting for the Blazers. Neil Olshey is their GM, and he has an excellent draft record with the team. His successful first round picks include Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Zach Collins. In the second round, his successful picks (including draft day trades) include Will Barton, Allen Crabbe, and Pat Connaughton, who are all rotation players. Meyers Leonard is his only pick who can really be considered a bust, but as a 7ft tall player with a three point shot, he certainly looked like a good gamble for a rebuilding team.
Second, calling a player a bust who was picked late in the first or second round is crazy. Most players picked that late aren’t stars or even starters in the NBA. Getting a solid rotation player in the 2nd round is an achievement. There are obvious exceptions, like Isaiah Thomas and Draymond Green, but most don’t make it past the 3rd string of an NBA rotation.
The last thing I want to mention is that the Blazers are criticized for needing a veteran wing player and drafting a guard. A player who is a veteran in the NBA has to have played in the league for quite some time. How many such players are available in the draft? The answer, of course, is zero. The whole point of the draft is to go for potential, not for a quick fix. Maybe the two or three best players in the draft can become contributors immediately, but expecting that is not realistic, especially for a playoff team drafting late in the first round or second round. There are a lot of veterans available in free agency who can fit into the exact role a playoff team needs, so save the criticism for then.
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