21. Portland Trailblazers

The 21st pick belongs to the Portland Trailblazers who are represented by:
     Mike Northam 

With that pick, the Blazers select:

     Luther Wright, C, 7'2", Seton Hall

USENET GM: Mike Northam
TEAM:  Portland Trailblazers

I.  Team Needs/Summary

The Blazers, considered one of the elite teams of the NBA the past few
seasons, are a team in transition.  Saddled with injuries and a
demoralizing (and immoral :-)) off-the-court escapade in Salt Lake City,
they finished with a disappointing fourth best record in the West while
preseason predictions had them contending for a possible NBA title.  Thus
the call for restructuring the team--no one believes the current team has
what it takes to go all the way (and, unlike a lot of other teams,
anything short of a repeat of the '77 championship is considered failure
in Blazermania-land).

In addition, the core group of players is not getting any younger, and
Cliff Robinson (NBA sixth man of the year) is the only younger guy from
the last few drafts to step up to the level.

Trades are coming.  Likely no more than three of the starters from the
last few years will be on the team next season--possibly less.

Duckworth is history.  The Blazers may not even be able to get a second
round pick for him, but the coaches and management (and probably his
teammates) have totally lost faith in his ability to be a contributor to
the team in the future.  Weight + emotional insecurity + inability to come
off the bench == he's outta here.

Portland played the last third of the season with Mark Bryant (a power
forward) at center, with Cliff Robinson and Joe Wolf as backup (Duckworth
playing limited and largely ineffective minutes).  They need a center, as
Bryant, though physical, is too small to play the 7-footers effectively,
and Wolf is a journeyman, at best.  Robinson is a decent defender for
brief stretches, but he's foul-prone against larger opposing centers and
is relied on more for offense than defense, in any case.

Someone new, either via the draft or (more likely) trade, will be the
Blazer's center next year.

Buck Williams slipped noticeably this year, but is probably still good for
another season.  Mark Bryant is a capable backup.

There are questions about the health of Jerome Kersey's knees.  He was out
with injury for substantial periods this past season, and will either be
traded or coming off the bench next year.  Cliff Robinson will likely
start at this position, where he will cause severe problems for opposing
defenders.  Tracy Murray, though a poor defender, is an excellent shooter
and will play some minutes here (if he isn't traded).

Will Drexler be traded?  If not, this spot is his (he can also fill in
adequately at small forward).  Clyde didn't do much gliding last year, due
to injury, but he probably still has a few years left in his legs.  Terry
Porter filled in as backup shooting guard last year, and was pretty
effective.  He's a likely candidate for being traded, though.  Dave
Johnson played some and will likely improve.

Rod Strickland was the surprise player of the year for this team.  He
showed that he has outgrown his past off-court problems and can play with
the elite corp of point guards that inhabit the West.  The Blazers have a
need for a backup point guard, however, as was shown in several games this
year, when Porter had to do double duty at both point and shooting guard.

Primary needs are a center and backup point guard, though outside shooting
is a perennial concern with this team.  The shape of this team will be
determined by what trades are made, though, and not who is drafted.

II.  Your selection (and explanation)

Luther Wright.  He's tall and big, and that's what the Blazers need most
(well, they need someone like David Robinson the most, but he's not
available at #21 in the draft :-)).  Somewhat of a project, and there are
questions about his past weight problems, but again, at #21, you're
looking for a potential contributor, not an all-star.  Project players are
not unknown in the latter stages of the first round.

>From the scouting report by Alan Sepinwall :
Stengths: Strength, Size, Shot-Blocking, Rebounding, Defense
Weaknesses: Mental attitude, weak offensive game, concerns about weight

III. Others considered (and why considered, briefly)

Only potential centers were considered, since that is the team's greatest need.

Scott Haskins - Oregon State (the other OSU).  PAC-10 player of the year,
but there are questions about his ability to play at NBA levels.

Ed Stokes - UA.  Probably won't get much better than he already is.

Rich Manning - Washington.  Probably only second round material.

IV. Who the team will probably take

The Blazers are enamored with size (witness their pick of Sam Bowie
instead of Michael Jordan in 1984).  If Luther Wright is already gone
(which is likely), look for them to perhaps pick someone like Haskins or
Manning, unless an outstanding point guard/outside shooter is available.

V.  Other moves that team should make

Who knows who the Blazers will decide to trade.  Porter seems the most
likely possibility to me, though if the Blazers could get a quality center
and perhaps a draft pick or two for Drexler, they might go for it.  There
is a determination to shake up the team and restructure, so nothing is
beyond contemplation, IMHO.

If they had the opportunity to trade up in order to get Shawn Bradley,
they might just do it.  The Blazer brass is firmly camped in the "you need
a center to win it all" category, despite recent evidence from the Bulls
and Pistons to the contrary.

And, of course, they need a decent coach, IMHO, as Adelman, though a good
"player's coach" can't compete in the "game coaching" area.  A lot of the
Blazer's failure to perform at the close of games comes from poor
substitution patterns and lack of a good game plan (notice how often they
seemed confused as to what they were trying to accomplish when the game
came down to crunch time).  I lay a lot of that at the coach's feet.

Draft Summary:

1.  Orlando
    GM:   Tom@Orlando 
    Pick: Chris Webber, PF, 6-10.  University of Michigan
2.  Philadelphia
    GM:   Dave Meeks 
    Pick: Shawn Bradley, C, 7-7. BYU
3.  Golden State
    GM's: Mike Moore 
          Terry Wong 
    Pick: Jamal Mashburn, SF, 6-8. Kentucky
4.  Dallas
    GM:   Curtis Hill  
    Pick: Anfernee Hardaway, SG, 6-7, Memphis State
5.  Minnesota
    GM's: Kevin Hansen 
          Toni Morgan 
    Pick: Calbert Cheaney, SF, 6-7. Indiana
6.  Washington
    GM's: The Crossjammer 
          Jim Nagle   
    Pick: J.R. Rider, SG, 6-5, UNLV
7.  Sacramento
    Pick: Rodney Rogers, PF, 6-7, Wake Forest
8.  Milwaukee       
    GM's: Brian Saunders 
          Morgan Edwards 
    Pick: Malcolm Mackey, PF, 6-11, Georgia Tech
9.  Denver
    GM's: John Exby 
          Rick Grubin 
    Pick: Ervin Johnson, PF, 6-11, New Orleans
10. Detroit (from Miami in John Sally trade)
    GM:   Rob Skrobola 
    Pick: Alan Houston, SG, 6-6, Tennessee
11. Detroit
    GM:   Rob Skrobola 
    Pick: Acie Earl, C, 6-10, Iowa
12. L.A. Lakers
    GM:   Cliff Slaughterbeck 
    Pick: Bobby Hurley, PG, 6-0, Duke
13. L.A. Clippers
    GM:   Cliff Slaughterbeck 
    Pick: Vin Baker, SF, 6-10, Hartford
14. Indiana
    GM:   Doug Mraz 
    Pick: Scott Burrell, SG, 6-7, UCONN
15. Atlanta
    GM:   Kevin Metz 
    Pick: Terry Dehere, SG, 6-4, Seton Hall
16. New Jersey
    GM:   A. Borges Sugiyama 
    Pick: Douglas Edwards, PF, 6-9, Florida State
17. Charlotte
    GM:   Bren Bailey 
    Pick: Chris Mills, SF, 6-6, Arizona
18. Utah
    GM:   Michael Wendt  
    Pick: George Lynch, SF, 6-7, North Carolina
19. Boston
    GM:   Orin Day 
    Pick: Greg Graham, SG, 6-4, Indiana
20. Charlotte (from San Antonio for J.R. Reid)
    GM:   Bren Bailey 
    Pick: Lindsey Hunter, PG, 6-2, Jackson State
21. Portland
    GM:   Mike Northam 
    Pick: Luther Wright, C, 7-2, Seton Hall 

Next up:
22. Cleveland
    GM's: W. Scott Klingensmith 
          Brian Young 

Craig Simpson - Usenet Draft Commissioner