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News » Portland Trail Blazers Getting Inside 2008-05-30

Portland Trail Blazers Getting Inside 2008-05-30

Portland Trail Blazers Getting Inside 2008-05-30
If the Trail Blazers hang on to their three second-round picks in the June 26 draft, the team's management and coaching staff is getting an eyeful of their possible prospects during this week's NBA pre-draft camp in Orlando.

The top 15 U.S. players eligible for the draft are in Orlando for skills and medical testing only. The rest of the domestic first-round crop -- players such as Arizona's Chase Budinger, Florida's Marreese Speights, Georgetown's Roy Hibbert and Memphis' Chris Douglas-Roberts -- is skipping the pre-draft camp.

That leaves only one for-sure first-round pick -- North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson -- participating in the four-day showcase for NBA scouts, with California big man DeVon Hardin predicted to go late in the first or early in the second round.

"It's a diamond-in-the-rough situation for us here," Portland general manager Kevin Pritchard said Thursday, the third day of the event. With the Blazers' second-round selections, "we're trying to find a player who can make our team and become an impact guy later down the line. I can't tell you there's a guy here who would make an impact immediately."

Portland has the 13th pick in the first round. The Blazers have "five or six players" they have targeted to consider for that pick, according to Pritchard, most of them in Orlando for testing only.

"As we go through the process, some will get eliminated and some will get more consideration," said Pritchard, who will begin bringing players to Portland for individual workouts next Wednesday.

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: Portland was 5-12 and coming off an embarrassing 100-79 loss to San Antonio Dec. 2 when McMillan decided to let up a little on his young team. With the reins off, the Blazers kicked into a more free-spirited, up-tempo style and promptly ran off the longest winning streak in the NBA at that point.

The 13-game streak saw the Blazers take defined roles. Blue-collar center Joel Przybilla battled for rebounds and blocks down low and forward Travis Outlaw emerged as a sixth man and off-the-bench scoring threat. LaMarcus Aldridge took his place as a secondary scorer next to Brandon Roy, Steve Blake became a reliable distributor of the ball, and Martell Webster and James Jones became the outside shooting threats Portland had been lacking.

TURNING POINT: Portland's luck was probably doomed to change when a favorable December schedule turned tough in January and February. After playing 10 games out of a 13-game stretch in December at the Rose Garden, the Blazers had a seven-game road stretch in January.

The wheels didn't start to come off until they lost eight of nine in the middle of February, and a stretch of six loses in seven games from March 27-April 11 was indicative of a young team that was running out of gas.

Late season injuries to Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Joel Przybilla left the team without a rudder.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: May 30, 2008


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