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Point Guard | 6’6 | 180 | Utah
Projected: Late 1st round
Best Case: Antonio Daniels
Most Likely: Grievis Vasquez
Worst Case: Matt Bouldin
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Point Guard | 6’5 | 200 | Notre Dame
Projected: Late 1st round
Best Case: Reggie Jackson
Most Likely: Shelvin Mack
Worst Case: Charles Jenkins
Looking into these two, I found enough similarities to justify conjoining their scouting reports. Both are tall, unselfish point guards entering the NBA after strong senior campaigns. They will both be 23 when their rookie seasons commence, making them two of the oldest prospects in this draft. Both have siblings currently in the NBA, Jerian more recently with his brother Jerami entering the league last season and Delon being the younger brother of the Blazers’ own Dorell Wright. Finally, both find themselves projected in that grey area between the lottery and the end of the 1st round. Which team picks them and what their goals and expectations are will be particularly important for these two. As their comparisons show, I’m optimistic that both can end up as solid backup point options for good teams but with neither projecting as above average three point shooters, they need a flexible team willing to adapt their talents to fit.
Much like Livingston with the Warriors or Vasquez with the Raptors, Wright can do a range of things well even in the absence of elte athleticism or quickness. He has a crafty, purposeful game that takes what the defense offers and is able to do so effectively almost regardless of what that is. His defensive talents should be on show from day one, as Wright is a tenacious ball-hawk capable of guarding either backcourt spot. This versatility on both ends will be the trademark of his game should he find success at the next level.
Grant is more traditional in his strengths and weaknesses – thriving in pick and role, isolation and transition play but struggling to find defensive consistency. He is a capable and willing passer, already showing the ability to make advanced passes in the pick and roll as well as having elite court vision, likely aided by his ability to see over defenses at 6’5. His physical tools and defensive instincts should have allowed Grant to become a defensive terror by the time his senior season rolled around but instead he contributed to a below average defensive unit at Notre Dame – often gambling for steals and generally displaying lacklustre effort. Fulfilling the potential afforded him by his athletic talents and feel for the game will be crucial if Grant is to thrive as an NBA point – he will find himself quickly making his bones in far flung corners of the basketball universe if he allows complacency to creep in.
Backup point guard is a position in need of addressing for the Blazers – Steve Blake is now half a decade removed from being effective in that role but a replacement doesn’t currently exist in house. Tim Frazier impressed on and off after being called up from the D-League and shares many of the strengths and weaknesses discussed above but his waterbug size makes his lack of shooting a more glaring issue and his defense less likely to impress over time. While these two aren’t my favourite late 1st round backup point options, they are the most likely to still be available at 23. Wright is available at that stage in most current projections and would provide an intriguing complement to both Dame and CJ – offering defensive cover and the type of swiss army knife play on the other end that can allow our offensive geniuses to fully flourish. Grant appears more likely to be off the board by the time we’re picking but I feel that he’s slightly less suited to the Blazers style of play anyway. His game should play well in a pacey system that has more weapons attacking the rim off the pick and roll – somewhere like Houston, Sacremento or Phoenix. Wright is a pick I can see Olshey and the Blazers making in a world where they believe LA is coming back and in that context I wouldn’t mind adding him to our squad next season.