After two seasons of Damian Lillard’s prime have been wasted away in the past couple of years in Portland, the Trail Blazers have high hopes riding on the NBA Draft Lottery set to take place on Tuesday, May 16.
Currently, the Blazers roster seems to be a team mired in mediocrity, even with all of their rotation pieces fully healthy. Rather than push their stars through injury and try to patch up their holes before this past season’s trade deadlines, General Manager Joe Cronin and the rest of Portland’s brass again turned their attention to the draft in hopes of landing a franchise running mate for Dame.
In 2021-2022, Portland shut down Lillard for the majority of the season to tank their record and try to accumulate the best lottery odds possible. All of that losing culminated in the Blazers actually falling down a spot in the draft order, and they wound up with just the seventh pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
While the prospect they selected, Shaedon Sharpe, has shown some serious star potential in his short career, it was obvious that the phenom who skipped his freshman year of college wouldn’t be a reliable contributor very soon.
Lillard has already gone on record to state that he expects the Blazers to use this upcoming draft to add talent that can help him compete for a title immediately.
Of course, that sentiment implies that he expects Portland to trade their lottery pick in exchange for an available All-Star caliber veteran, similar to the deal they struck for Jerami Grant.
However, that could also mean that Lillard expects whichever rookie the Blazers select with their pick this year to be NBA-ready.
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While the 2023 draft is loaded with top-tier talent, not many project to be consistent performers from day one. With Portland’s lottery odds and Lillard’s statement, it’s pretty clear that the Blazers have their eyes on one single prospect: Victor Wembenyama out of France.
The 7’2" big man has shown a combination of defensive instincts, length, and advanced offensive skills that would suggest he could be a dominate two-way force in his rookie season.
Portland is so desperate for Wemby that they’re sending franchise legend Brandon Roy to the lottery as a good luck charm. Roy hasn’t represented the Blazers at the lottery since 2007, when they just so happened to land the number one overall pick that would go on to become Greg Oden. For Damian Lillard, let’s hope it pays off for them again.
Victor Wembanyama officially declares for the 2023 NBA draft with @malika_andrews 👀
(via NBA Today) pic.twitter.com/OMgOJket4t
— ESPN (@espn) April 21, 2023
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| Title: The Portland Trail Blazers are all-in on Victor Wembanyama for the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery
| Author: Andy Quach
| Date: May 04 2023