In the 2023 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers pick No. 3 overall… for now. The trade rumors are swirling around the Blazers’ selection, but no one knows what the team is going to do. Will the team trade the pick to get a veteran star to play with Damian Lillard? Or are they leaning toward trading Lillard and building around their choice at three, like Scoot Henderson? Well, this should clear things up a bit as we make a bold, last-minute Blazers draft prediction ahead of Thursday’s franchise-altering night.
The last-minute Blazers draft prediction is that the team finally trades Damian Lillard
There are three Blazers draft scenarios that could play out Thursday night, and none of them involve Portland taking point guard prospect Scoot Henderson at No. 3 and playing him with Dame Lillard.
We’ve seen that movie before, and know the ending’s not satisfying.
Option one is that the Blazers use the No. 3 pick in a trade to get a player to complement Lillard and try one more time to win a championship with their longtime loyal star. This could be for a player like Karl-Anthony Towns, Jaylen Brown, or maybe even a polarizing star like Zion Williamson.
Option two is that the Blazers trade back to add multiple picks to their war chest, along with young players who fit better with Lillard. The Orlando Magic, with picks No. 6 and 11, makes the most sense. At those spots, they could pick up prospects like Houston’s Jarace Walker and Kansas’ Gradey Dick, who fit better with Dame.
Those may be the two most likely scenarios, but what fun are those when making a last-minute bold Blazers draft prediction?
The other options with the Blazers pick are that they can take PG Scoot Henderson, the second-best prospect in the 2023 NBA Draft – and likely the best in any other year not involving Victor Wembanyama — and then get even more picks by trading Damian Lillard.
Henderson is a franchise cornerstone type of player. He is an incredible scoring guard who can also create chances for his teammate. He is a solid defender, too, although, at just 6-foot-2, there are some issues there.
And we all know what happened when you put Lillard and another guard (CJ McCollum) together with defensive liabilities. So, to avoid this, the Blazers’ draft prediction is that the team finally trades Lillard and starts over with Henderson and a major haul on draft night that includes young players and picks.
Who will that Blazers trade be with?
That’s tough to answer, as there are several contenders, but three come to the top.
The Miami Heat are reportedly desperate to make a trade to improve the team this offseason, so they could make a big offer for Lillard. At issue here is that Miami doesn’t have a lot of high-end draft picks to give up alongside players like Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson.
Next, the Brooklyn Nets could get involved. They have some interesting picks and young players, like Cam Johnson, Cam Thomas, and Nic Claxton, but the real prize is Mikal Bridges. If the Nets were to trade for Lillard, it would be to pair him and Bridges up, though, so the Blazers won’t get the best prospect in the deal.
The Blazers’ draft night trade that makes the most sense is with the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans have the No. 14 pick in this draft, plus their own and several future Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers selections.
With all the latest Zion drama, the Blazers may be able to pull off a major deal and get the young star for 50 cents on the dollar. A trade that includes Lillard for Williamson with No. 14 and a future Bucks pick heading back to Portland is within the realm of possibilities.
And that’s the specifics of this last-minute Blazers draft prediction.
The Blazers pick Scoot Henderson at No. 3 and trade Damian Lillard to the Pelicans for Zion Williamson and picks. There may be a few other minor players thrown in the deal as salary cap filler, but that’s the crux of the trade.
On the New Orleans side, they get a proven superstar to try and win a title within the next few seasons. Yes, this reunites Lillard and McCollum, but the Pelicans have fewer defensive liabilities with players like Herb Jones on the roster.
For Portland, they get to start over with a 19-year-old and a 22-year-old after years of not getting it done with (or for) Lillard. And with Henderson and Williamson surrounded by players like Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, Jusuf Nurcic, and Matisse Thybulle, the Blazers could be a playoff team sooner rather than later.