Coming into the 2013 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers have three above-average starters, one infuriatingly up-and-down shooting guard, a center about to test the free agent waters, and a bench that is considered by many to be a violation of the Geneva Convention. After the Blazers hit pay dirt last season with Damian Lillard, a strong draft this season could mean playoff games in the Rose City. Here is a short look at the options for the Blazers with the tenth pick for the draft on June 27.
Cody Zeller, Forward/Center, Indiana
7'0, 240, averaged 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds last season as a sophomore
Zeller is an offensive threat with a great ability to score low in the paint. He put up very consistent numbers all season for Indiana, including a terrific 24 point, 8 rebound performance against Michigan State and a 25 point, 10 rebound game in a clutch win over Michigan. He is not an impressive shot blocker; he never had more than three in any game this season except for once versus Sam Houston State in which he had four. He got bullied down low in the NCAA tournament in Indiana's loss in the Sweet 16 to Syracuse. There are concerns he will not be able to put up the defensive numbers needed from a center, and how well his low post game will translate to the NBA. Even with these concerns, the potential athleticism at the large forward positions with Zeller and LaMarcus Aldridge are too good pass up.
Kelly Olynyk, Center, Gonzaga
7'0, 238, averaged 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds last season as a junior
Leading weapon all season long for Gonzaga, Olynyk scored in double figures in all but two games. A fearsome scorer in the post, terrific range for his size, and an above-average free throw shooter, his best game was against Santa Clara where he scored 33 points and had 10 rebounds, while also shooting 8-of-9 from the charity stripe. He can shoot inside or outside. Olynyk’s not a shot-blocker, averaging just over one block per game. His lack of quality competition does create a possible translation to the NBA level. He also turns the ball over far more than a team would like. But his ceiling is extremely high, comparable to Dirk Nowitzki. He just needs to work on his toughness to fight for rebounds down low in the NBA.
Gorgui Dieng, Center, Louisville
6'11, 245, averaged 9.8 points and 9.4 rebounds last season as a junior
While not a scorer like Zeller or Olynyk, Dieng is a fearsome rebounder and defender and a tough as nails mindset. He averaged 2.3 blocks per game, with 6 blocks in a game against Rutgers. Dieng showed a devastating all-around game against Notre Dame, scoring 20 points, grabbing 8 rebounds, along with 5 blocks. His defensive skills in the post are one of, if not, the best in the draft this season. He can also pass out of the post with surprising skill at his size. He has a long wingspan and quick defensive recovery. However, his offensive skills are somewhat limited. That said, his defensive toughness and passing ability make him a tremendous fit for the scoring of Aldridge and Lillard.