Why the Trail Blazers Won’t Use Their Draft Pick for Themselves

The Portland Trail Blazers hold the seventh pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Although the Blazers are doing draft workouts, most of the excitement about their offseason plans revolves around their delaying the pick and not using it to spot a potential star -Rookie win. This attitude is not without controversy, as today’s Blazer’s Edge Mailbag shows.

David,

You and other ‘media pundits’ are all quite sure we’ll swap the election for someone, but how about a good young player instead? For years we’ve seen that first-round picks are the most valuable, and you yourself have said it’s smart to have good players at a bargain deal. So why are you so confident that trading is the thing to do now that we finally have the chance to do just that again and perhaps redo a checkers or CJ draft? Why has your view changed? Don’t you think you’re being inconsistent?

Tyler

The base value of a lottery selection and/or players with rookie-scale contracts has not changed. These are still among the most valuable assets in the NBA. They’re still second only to the Superstars, but otherwise don’t surpass them much.

We’re really talking about two types or uses of value here. There’s value in choosing, though Second hand and value of selection if traded. It’s not always the same.

Here’s a silly example. After meeting celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, I find his reputation for meanness overdone. After a few witty banter, Chef Ramsay finds me so charming that he makes me a good old-fashioned shepherd’s pie, which I now hold in my hands.

I can do one of two things with this cake. I can eat it, in this case its value is a delicious taste, a unique experience and fills my stomach from now until the next time I get hungry. Or I can post this sucker on Ebay listed as an authentic Chef Ramsay special and see what people pay for it.

My current circumstances will heavily influence my decision. When I’m starving and haven’t eaten in a week, or when I’ve got a lot of money in the bank and I’m a big Gordon Ramsay fan, eating the cake myself can prove to be the more valuable experience. On the other hand, I might be more tempted to give up a single dinner in order to get $2,000 from a potential buyer, especially if I have fairly normal means.

The same goes for Portland’s draft pick. Its value depends on their circumstances, what they need. Like the shepherd’s pie, it will always taste good some Path. But how will it be best? In other words, how can its value be maximized?

Let’s take a look at where the blazers are. They seem dedicated to rebuilding around Damian Lillard, who is 32 years old. Reaching and excelling in the playoffs will be their mark of success. They’ve built in enough flexibility so you don’t have to worry too much about spending money. You also need to improve quickly.

A rookie draftee can help with those priorities, but he won’t be fully fit. If Portland had the No. 1 standings, that would be a different discussion. Then you would expect a star who, after minimal familiarization, could contribute. The seventh selection will be more of a project. There’s no rock solid guarantee they’ll be a starter, let alone a star. Even if they are great, it will probably take me 2-3 years to figure out how far they can go.

Simply put, Portland is unable to make the most of the value the seventh pick brings when used.

Other teams will be in a better position. There is a strong possibility that they would value the choice more. They could also have high-ranking veterans who aren’t taking full advantage of them, players who fit Portland’s schedule and goals.

The Toronto Raptors are a great example. OG Anunoby is a third wheel behind Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes. Toronto could use a good young player to strengthen an already solid line-up and they have time to develop.

By the way, this is just one case. We could immerse ourselves in others. In any case, the point remains the same.

We could certainly criticize Portland’s approach. It doesn’t necessarily look good when you hold an otherwise valuable asset and can’t use it even though you’re not winning. But given where the Blazers have landed, it’s pretty clear that the value of the trade to them is greater than the value of executing it yourself. Using the pickaxe itself would mean all other good options would have failed. Getting another young, cheap, talented player would be good news, but the context surrounding the move certainly wouldn’t.

Thank you for your question! You all can send yours to blazersub@gmail.com and we’ll try to work it through!

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