By STEVEN VAUGHAN, 750 THE GAME
So many opinions. So many options. So many lies.
Nobody knows what the Trail Blazers are thinking. I can have a guess. I can talk to sources. But ultimately, I don’t know what Joe Cronin and the Trail Blazers are going to do tonight.
I will start this off by saying all I want is a Trail Blazers championship. That is always my mindset. I want to take my eight and four-year-old to a Trail Blazers parade celebrating their first championship since 1977.
I believe there are two options the Blazers can choose where I will be happy. I don’t know what exactly is available. But with the options I think are real, here is my order of happiness.
1. Trade the #3 pick in a package for Zion Williamson + pieces
I believe this rumor has truth. And I want it to happen. Zion has worn his welcome out in New Orleans and what better way to replace him than having the third pick in the draft and potentially drafting Scoot Henderson? A player the Pelicans have been rumored to be in love with. If Brandon Miller is taken with the second pick by the Hornets, this trade becomes very real. Chris Haynes has reported that Zion is available. Sean Highkin has said that the Blazers would be interested in Zion. There are too many people talking about Williamson being available for it not to be true.
On the court, it’s a risk. No doubt. But how many risks have the Blazers taken with Damian Lillard? I would say zero.
The ceiling of Zion is the Blazers acquire an MVP-level talent who is only 22 years old. An all-star when healthy. A 1/1 player that the NBA has never seen.
The floor? He could be out of shape and unhealthy and not available to play. As long as Zion plays, he is going to be a top 20 player in the NBA and the Blazers would have that on the roster as a 22-year-old. Not only are you providing Lillard with the best player he has ever played with, offensively the pick and roll of Damian Lillard and Zion Williamson would be one of the most dangerous duos in the league.
If the Blazers want to compete, Zion gives them the best chance to do so.
I don’t think the Blazers would be championship contenders next season if they acquire Williamson. But what I do think is the Blazers building around Zion and Shaedon Sharpe is one of the most dynamic young duos in the NBA that you can build around. And the Blazers would be competitive this next season to make Damian Lillard happy. Lillard wants veterans that can help him compete. I want a championship. Zion has the potential to eventually help with both of those things.
2. Draft a player at #3
As of this writing, I believe that Brandon Miller is going to be the second pick in the draft. Which means the Blazers will have to make a decision about Scoot Henderson. But if Henderson gets drafted with the second pick, I would want Miller. If Zion is off the table, I want the draft pick.
Doing this will make the Blazers worse in the present. Henderson is at his best when he has the ball in his hands just like Damian Lillard. But to be able to draft a talented 19-year-old who will be on a rookie contract is too good to pass up.
Henderson is one of the best athletes in the league. His explosiveness and speed is second to none. A combination of Henderson and Sharpe who will both be under 21 years of age when the season starts is a great starting spot for the Blazers.
Drafting Henderson doesn’t necessarily mean you have to trade Damian Lillard. In fact, I think it can help Scoot and help Lillard at the same time. The Blazers have been lacking another ball handler and playmaker for a long time. Drafting Henderson will take some of the pressure off of Lillard and allow him to play off of the ball more often. With the shooting the Blazers have in Damian Lillard and Jerami Grant, Henderson will have a better chance to attack the hoop with less resistance.
The Blazers need to capitalize on having the third pick in the draft by acquiring someone who can be a difference-maker. These kinds of opportunities don’t come around very often. Anybody outside of Zion, Scoot Henderson, Brandon Miller, or even Amen Thompson may not be difference makers. But of course, there’s always the chance that a different trade pops up before the draft.
It’s going to be a great night.