By Draft Or By Trade, Trail Blazers Prioritizing Highest Possible Upside.


What are the Blazers going to do?

The question persists ahead of the NBA Draft on June 22nd.

The one thing we do know is Victor Wembanyama will be the first pick in the draft. After that — Charlotte at No. 2, Portland at No. 3, and beyond… it’s anybody’s guess.

Sean Highkin of the Rose Garden Report knows just as much as anybody, and he joined the Bald Faced Truth to discuss what he thinks the Blazers could be prioritizing come draft night.

As of Wednesday on Draftkings, Scoot Henderson is the favorite to be the number three overall pick, whether that’s with the Blazers or not. Henderson worked out for the Blazers in the pre-draft process, and Highkin got to be around him and came away impressed.

“Very impressive from a media standpoint, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about him,” Highkin said on 750 The Game. “Work ethic stuff, character stuff, personality stuff, all of it.”

When it comes to Damian Lillard — who has been busy doing podcasts and IG Live posts making and clarifying comments on where he wants to play — drafting a teenage prospect with immense upside does not seem to jive with Lillard’s wishes to contend right away. Highkin pointed out, however, the Blazers will not simply trade the no. 3 pick only to satisfy Lillard.

“I don’t think they’re going to trade the pick just to trade the pick. Just to get a “win now” guy if they don’t get an offer they don’t like,” Highkin said. “The names that you see thrown out there — Mikal Bridges is someone I think they would consider. Names like Jaylen Brown they would consider. But when you get into names like OG Anunoby or Zach Lavine for example, they wouldn’t be interested in those type of players.”

Shams Charania of the Athletic and numerous other reports have surfaced saying the Pelicans may be interested in trading for Scoot Henderson. The Pelicans would need to Portland at 3 or Charlotte at 2 in order to do that.

Highkin says if the Pelicans call the Blazers about the number three pick, Portland is going to want to start the trade conversations with one name: Zion Williamson.

“Just knowing what I know about how this front office operates and the types of moves they make and don’t make. They’re going to go for the upside (Zion),” said Highkin.

“Brandon Ingram isn’t changing your world. He doesn’t make you a title contender. Whereas Zion is obviously a huge risk with the injury, conditioning, and the other stuff. But we’ve seen literally every time he plays he’s a top-five player in the league, and if you’re betting that he’s motivated by a change in scenery and he gets in better shape. If that happens, that’s the highest upside play that you can make.”

The NBA Draft is June 22nd at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Trail Blazers could go in any number of directions, each with significant ramifications. But Highkin says the Blazers are only going to make a big trade if it’s for one of the best players in the league.

That should give Blazers fans a little bit of hope that they aren’t going to settle.

Listen to the full interview with Rose Garden Report’s, Sean Highkin, by listening to the podcast below. Catch the Bald Faced Truth with John Canzano weekdays 3-6 p.m. in Portland exclusively on 750 The Game.