Trail Blazers get 6th, 11th picks in NBA draft

Portland ends up with its most likely scenario in draft

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

Published:

 

2012 NBA Draft

■ When: June 28.

■ Where: Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

■ First pick: New Orleans Hornets, who won the draft lottery with a 13.7 percent chance of doing so.

■ Blazers picks: Portland holds the No. 6 and No. 11 selections in the first round. The Blazers will also pick 40th and 41st in the second round.

The Trail Blazers have a very different interpretation of the phrase "pick 6."

Normally, it's a colloquial way to describe an interception returned for a touchdown, but to Portland, it illustrates where it will select in this year's NBA Draft.

During Wednesday's draft lottery, with Wesley Matthews representing the team, the Blazers learned that they will have the Nos. 6 and 11 picks. This was the most likely scenario for the organization, but there was certainly some anxiety felt before it became official.

"It was nerve-racking," Blazers acting general manager Chad Buchanan said. "But we had no control over it, so I tried not to get too worked up."

Portland finished with the 11th worst record in the league last season, meaning they were slotted for the No. 11 pick with less than a 1 percent chance of moving to the top. At the same time, the Blazers owned the Nets' pick as long as Brooklyn -- the franchise previously located in New Jersey -- did not end up in the top 3. It didn't. It was No. 6.

"There were a lot of nerves," Matthews said. "When Brooklyn's name come up, I saw that as us having the potential to add two pieces in the first round."

Whether the Blazers actually use those picks is to be determined. Buchanan made very clear that the team was open to fielding trade offers -- potentially relinquishing one or both picks to add a quality player. However, if they do use them, the sixth pick will eat up $2.55 million in salary cap space while the 11th will use $1.77 million.

This is considered one of the deeper draft classes in years. New Orleans, which received the No. 1 pick despite having a 13.7 percent chance of doing so, likely will select Kentucky center Anthony Davis, considered the consensus No. 1 pick.

NBA Draft Express' mock draft currently has the Blazers taking Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger sixth and North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall 11th. Buchanan said that if the Blazers do end up utilizing the draft picks, they will make their selections based on talent, not need.

There were some familiar Blazer faces in New York Wednesday. Former Portland assistant coach and current New Orleans coach Monty Williams was representing the Hornets, while former Blazers general manager and current Charlotte GM Rich Cho represented the Bobcats, which got the No. 2 pick despite having the best chance at winning the top selection.

Of course, the most familiar face was Matthews, who attended his first draft lottery. He's not planning on going back.

"I've never been a part of any draft process," Matthews said. "It's something I look forward to never being part of again."

Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or matt.calkins@columbian.com