The Blazers held their first round of pre-draft workouts on Friday, welcoming six NBA hopefuls to the practice facility in Tualatin.
Portland holds the No. 25 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Whether they decide to use it or not remains to be seen. The Blazers have a lot of salary cap questions to answer, and the addition of a first round pick could complicate things. But should they use the pick, you would certainly expect them to draft at a point of weakness - the forward position.
Of the six players on hand for tryouts, one player specifically could fit the bill - Wake Forest's Jaylen Hoard.
Hoard is a 6'8" forward that can play both the 3 and the 4. Portland is weak at both those positions, so getting a guy that can play both would be a plus. Hoard is only 216lb, so he would have to put on a little size to really get dirty in the paint, but that's usually something you see with taller prospects. Not to mention, Portland's starting power forward last season, Al-Farouq Aminu, was just four pounds heavier than Hoard is now.
Speaking of Aminu, Hoard can best be described as Al-Farouq Aminu light, and not just because they are about the same size and both went to Wake Forest.
Just look at their college stats:
In two seasons at Wake Forest, Aminu averaged 14.1 points and 9.4 rebounds, while shooting 47.6% from the floor but just 23.8% from three.
In his one and only season at Wake Forest, Hoard averaged 13.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, shot 45.8% from the floor and just 22.6% from deep.
To say the two are comparable is an understatement.
While Hoard lacks a three-point game, he will block shots, get steals, clean the class, and pepper the stat sheet. Should the Blazers lose Aminu in free agency, Hoard would be a nice replacement. As I said, he has a very similar skill set to Aminu and would fit in nicely with the team. They have already built around a player of his archetype.
The downside here is that most fans would like to see an upgrade over Aminu at power forward, and Hoard would be a step back, at least to start.
The upside is that we saw Aminu go from a 23.8% three-point shooter in college to a 34.3% three-point shooter last season. 34% isn't great, but jumping by more than 10% from a three-point line that is further away from the basket is quite impressive. It's easy to see Hoard doing the same. Add in the fact that is a better athlete than Aminu, at least on tape, and you really start to see the upside.
Hoard is probably a late first or mid second round prospect, so there could even be a chance you see Portland trade out of the first round and buy a second round pick to get a guy like this. Going back to the salary cap situation, there is a big difference between first round and second round picks when it comes to the finances, and Portland wouldn't want to hurt their situation more just to draft a guy at No.25 that they could get in the second round. So what they do here will be very interesting.
For Hoard though, what Portland decides doesn't really matter. The kid has a very good skill set for today's NBA, outside of his weak deep ball. something that will take little time to fix and will find a home in the NBA.
I don't know if any of the players the Blazers brought in are "the guy" for Portland, but remember that in 2017 they didn't even bring Zach Collins in for a workout, so you never know exactly what the team has its eye on. But if the Blazers were forced to pick on of the six players that they brought in Friday, Hoard would be that guy.
I did say Hoard is Al-Farouq Aminu light. Well, General Manager Neil Olshey actually drafted Aminu when he was with the Clippers in 2010. Hoard is exactly the type of guy Olshey loves.
Will he hear his name at No.25? We will find out on June 20th at the 2019 NBA Draft.