TUALATIN – The Portland Trail Blazers held their third pre-draft workout on Thursday morning at their practice facility. Portland’s fourth and final workout will take place this Sunday.
The Blazers hold the No. 25 pick in this year’s draft, to be held on Thursday, June 20.
Portland brought in six hopefuls on Wednesday, David Crisp (Washington), Matur Maker (Slovenian League), KZ Okpala (Stanford), Samir Sehic (Tulane/Vanderbilt), Jaylin Walker (Kent State), and Cameron Young (Quinnipiac).
Stanford forward KZ Okpala, whose full name is Chikezie Okpala, is the biggest standout from Wednesday’s group.
Okpala is projected to be a mid to late first round pick, which could mean he is available for the Blazers at No. 25. Okpala has been linked to the Nets and Jazz in several Mock Drafts.
At 6’9”, 215 pounds, Okpala is the definition of a ‘3 & D’ guy.
Okpala talked with the media after his workout, discussing what stood out to him about the workout with the Trail Blazers saying, “The energy. Everybody was playing extremely hard, we’re competing, that was the biggest thing.”
While attending Esperanza High School in Anaheim, California, Okpala only played the guard position despite his huge growth spurt. He even brought the ball up when he grew to 6’8”.
“It’s just a blessing, Okpala said. “Nothing more than a blessing. [I was] 5’10” coming in as a freshman [in high school] and now I’m 6’10” almost. I’ve got guard skills, that helps with my versatility for sure.”
“Whatever position coach needs me to play, I can do it,” Okpala said.
With his size he looks to be a lock for the modern NBA and that is what Okpala is looking to showcase.
“Versatility, that I can handle it for my size, get downhill, get to the middle, I have a quick first step, play-make, can shoot it, and then defensively I think that’s where I can come in on a team and make an impact right away just because I think I can really get after it, Okpala said. “I can guard 1 through 4. I’m just confident on the defensive end and the offensive end.”
During his sophomore year of college, Okpala earned 2018-19 All-Pac-12 First Team selection.
At Stanford, he averaged 16.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. He played in 29 games his sophomore year, while averaging 46.3% from the field, 67.1% from the free throw line, and 36.8% from three-point range in 32.7 minutes per game.
The sophomore forward spoke with the Blazers team physiologist during the NBA Combine last month, which may show that Portland has had some interest in the young fella.
Okpala has been very busy during the pre-draft workout process.
“I’m getting up there. I think [this] is my ninth. I think I have a couple more… I just take it one day at a time really,” Okpala said. “It’s been so exciting, every place I go, the atmosphere, just meeting all the staff and front offices it’s been a blessing."
The 20-year-old also said he grew up watching the Blazers backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
“What they did in the playoffs is amazing, Okpala said. “I know the culture out here is incredible.”