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Tracking This Year’s NBA Draft Class: Portland’s 5 Best Fits

Each Wednesday, we’ll be assessing how the top prospects of the 2013 NBA Draft are faring in college and overseas. Stick with us each week for assorted thoughts, including the biggest risers and fallers, the standouts, the sleepers and what we know and don’t know about the next NBA Draft class…

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The Portland Trail Blazers will most likely be drafting in the lottery for the second-straight year and the seventh time in 10 years (their first-round pick is owed to Charlotte but is top-12 protected). But something is still missing. Despite the promise of young stars and proven talents, the team still requires more talent to get over the hump.

Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.

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ONE: What Do We Know About The Portland Trail Blazers?
The future of the Blazers seems to be in good hands with Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and Meyers Leonard. They are all 27 or under, giving the team a quality core. They defend the three well, get to the line, and are in the middle of the pack on both ends of the floor.

Other than those four, the team has only Joel Freeland, Victor Claver and Will Barton under contract past this year.

TWO: What Do They Need?
Adding more depth to the team has to be the number one priority (with the position not mattering). Point guard, shooting guard, forwards, centers, combos, shooters, rebounders, playmakers, and basketball players in general are the needs of the Blazers. Their starters were great, averaging 81.9 points per game, but the bench did not provide any consistency to assist the most used starting lineup in the league.

Lillard (38.6 minutes a night) played more than any other point guard. Aldridge (37.7) played more than any other power forward. Batum (38.4) was the second-most played small forward, and Matthews (34.8) played more minutes than all but seven other shooting guards. So, in a word, the Blazers need depth.

THREE: Stock Falling
With the early entry deadline passing this past Sunday, the talent pool has thinned out even more with only 40 freshmen, sophomores and juniors declaring for the NBA Draft. This was already a draft null and void of potential franchise-changing talents, but with the likes of Marcus Smart, Isaiah Austin, Adreian Payne and others returning, the 2013 NBA Draft itself saw its stock fall a little bit more.

FOUR: Stock Rising
There is always a benefactor to any situation and with the lack of early entry talent this year, the prospects abroad will see a rise. The likes of Dennis Schroeder (Germany), Livio Jean-Charles (France), and Mouhammadou Jaiteh (France) are the three that will benefit the most as first-round picks. Just two weeks ago, they were all mid-to-late second-round picks. The second round has the potential to be littered with talented internationals as draft and stash prospects because of the lack of this draft’s depth.

Keep reading to see the five best fits for Portland in this year’s draft…

FIVE: Quick Hitter
Over recent years, there has been a revolution that has been referred to as “positionless basketball” by many in the league. That is due in large part to the unique playing style of the Miami Heat. In order to compete with them it is an avenue teams have to entertain. A need for big, lane-clogging centers is not as important as it once was, and there are very few teams that rely on that style with success. The more mobile, lean and athletic centers are more the norm, as well as shooting big men that can stretch the floor. This year’s draft provides a number of talented centers with varying skill-sets that fit the new mold and others that reinforce the older ways. Either way, there will be a number of big men that will be selected in the upcoming draft.

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Top 5 Fits For Portland Right Now

1. Victor Oladipo: 6-5, 214 pounds – Junior, Indiana
Stats: 13.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.2 SPG, 59.9 percent FG, 44.1 percent 3PT
This would be a near perfect fit as the third guard for the Blazers. Oladipo is an attacker, not a shooter, which complements the shooting of the current backcourt.

2. Mason Plumlee: 6-10, 235 pounds – Senior, Duke
Stats: 17.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.4 BPG, 59.9 percent FG
Athletic big men with the skill-set of Plumlee do not come around often. He is limited as an offensive player, but can play a role alongside either Meyers Leonard or LaMarcus Aldridge.

3. Shabazz Muhammad: 6-5, 225 pounds – Fresh., UCLA
Stats: 17.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.8 APG, (27 total) 44.3 percent FG, 37.7 percent 3PT
The ball will likely always be in the hands of Lillard or Batum, which plays into the strengths of Muhammad as a catch-and-shoot specialist off the ball.

4. Michael Carter-Williams: 6-6, 185 pounds – Soph., Syracuse
Stats: 11.9 PPG, 7.3 APG, 2.7 SPG, 39.3 percent FG, 29.4 percent 3PT
If the goal is to take some pressure off of Lillard then adding MCW gives them an additional ballhandler that can play alongside him or provide him a breather off the bench.

5. Dario Saric: 6-10, 223 pounds – (1994) Croatia
Stats: 8.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 71.4 percent FG (21.9 MPG)
This is the home run or strikeout swing. Saric has the potential to be an elite point forward in the NBA with the open nature of the game. He is a three/four with good ball skills, allowing him to fit numerous roles off the bench.

Depth, depth, and more depth has to be the objective for the Blazers after putting out one of the thinnest rotations in the history of the NBA last season. They are set with their starting five, but have no one to turn to on their bench when the time calls for it.

Who should the Blazers draft?

Follow Kristofer on Twitter at @NBADraftInsider.

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