The Portland Trail Blazers Take A Big Step Forward (And Center)

Adding forward Deni Avdija and center Donovan Clingan reshape the franchise

I’m still surprised that Clingan fell to no.7 and the Blazers were able to land their prized center without having to trade up. Clingan is a monster defender who shuts down the lane and has a defensive impact that goes way past what the counting stats would indicate. He’s also a perfect fit with this team and will be a key cog in the Blazers future success.

The only reason I can think of for Clingan falling to no.7 is his history of foot injuries. It’s never a good thing for a 7-footer to have foot injuries and teams might have been wary of this in the top 5 of the draft. Clingan weighed in at 282lbs at the combine and could add a bit more weight as he grows up, so staying healthy could be concern. And with the Blazers history…well.. I’ll just leave it at that.

But injury concerns aside, Clingan is a game-changing player who is the perfect compliment to Scoot Henderson, Shaedon Sharpe, Anfernee Simons and Deni Avdija.

Speaking of Avdija, the trade to bring in the fast-rising forward was genius. Mike Schmitz has been very high on Deni for a long time (check out his past draft analysis) and he gets his guy by trading away the 14th pick, Malcolm Brogdon and some future draft assets. Deni had a breakout season last year and I expect that to continue. He’s only 23 years old and still far away from his prime.

A lineup of Scoot, Shaedon, Simons, Avdija and Clingan should give Blazers fans a lot of hope for the future. They could even start winning games this year, although one more year in the lottery will serve them well.

We’ll probably see some more moves, either in the off-season or ahead of next year’s trade deadline; perhaps shipping out DeAndre Ayton for draft picks or another young player.

Things are looking up in Portland and the moves made yesterday on day one of the draft are a big reason why.

For what it’s worth, I don’t hate the Deni trade for the Wizards. They saw more value in this draft than other teams and got a good young player at no.14. Plus they add a 2029 first rounder and two future seconds. If they can flip Brogdon for more assets that would be a win. Giving up Deni must have been tough but they got decent value in return, especially if Bub Carrington proves to be a worthy lottery pick.

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