The ping pong balls fell in the Portland Trail Blazers’ favor as they moved up to land the No. 3 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft Tuesday evening. Portland finished the regular season with a 33-49 record and held a 10.5% chance to win the lottery.
The franchise is presented with a peculiar opportunity, however, as they decide whether to build for the future or attempt to compete in the short term.
2023 NBA Mock Draft: Who should Trail Blazers take third?
Size is a clear need for Portland in light of injuries to big man Jusuf Nurkic, but with Victor Wembanyama likely off the board by this spot in the draft, the next best option would be to add spacing and size on the floor with a wing player. Additionally, the best strategy may be to draft the best prospect available in light of Damian Lillard’s future.
Scoot Henderson, Point Guard, G-League Ignite
Henderson could be Portland’s preferred option here if they truly believe it’s time to trade away Damian Lillard and fully commit to rebuilding for the future.
Henderson opted to log some professional playing time in the G-League and averaged 16.5 PPG, 6.5 APG, and 1.0 SPG with the Ignite. He’s a high-flying athlete that is liable to put any defender on a poster at a moment’s notice, and he needs very little space to do so. His three-point percentage (27.5%) will need to improve at the next level, though he proved capable of shooting off the dribble, particularly inside the arc (42.4% on pull-up twos).
Brandon Miller, Forward, Alabama
If Miller isn’t off the board by this time, then the Crimson Tide prospect presents an ideal option to both build for the future, while also potentially playing alongside the likes of Lillard and Anfernee Simons.
Miller averaged 18.8 PPG and 8.2 RPG while shooting 38.4 percent from beyond the arc with the Crimson Tide last season. At 6-9 with a 6-11 wingspan, Miller’s size and frame have drawn comparisons to that of Paul George and Danny Granger, and he fills what is becoming a hugely valuable position on the wing. With an average of 0.9 BPG, he’s also suited to guard nearly all five positions when he steps on the floor.
Ausar Thompson, Forward, Overtime Elite
At 6-7, 207 lbs with a 6-10 wingspan, Thompson possesses the size and frame to be an impactful two-way player at the next level. He’ll need to be more efficient when finishing at the rim, but he still finished shooting over 60 percent from the floor with Overtime Elite last year. He’s also flashed his potential to be a lockdown defender and his frame offers him the chance to size up against multiple positions.
In reality, Portland should willingly take any defensive help they can get after finishing 23rd in scoring defense last season (117.4 PPG allowed).