Portland Trail Blazers 2004 Draft Preview
(Sports Network) – Portland finished the regular season with a 41-41 record
and failed to qualify for the postseason for the first time in 22 seasons.
General manager John Nash traded away Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells in an
effort to give the Trail Blazers change in attitude to go along with a new
Forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who was acquired with Theo Ratliff from the
Atlanta Hawks for Wallace, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.
Abdur-Rahim did not seem to get comfortable in a Portland uniform, as he
averaged just 10 pints and 4.5 assists in 32 games with the Blazers.
Portland forward Zach Randolph was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player this
year. The Michigan State product, who started 80 of the 81 games in which he
appeared this season, was the Trail Blazers’ leading scorer and rebounder. He
averaged a double-double with 20.1 points and 10.5 rebounds, more than
doubling his output from the 2002-03 season.
Twenty-two-year-old Darius Miles, who was acquired from Cleveland for Jeff
McInnis during the season, played well for Portland. He averaged 12.6 points
and 4.6 boards in 42 contests with the Blazers.
Ratliff gives Portland an athletic, shot-blocking center. Along with Randolph
and Miles the Blazers are set up front.
The Blazers could be looking for a new look in their backcourt through the
draft. Damon Stoudamire, 30, started all 82 games for Portland at the point
last season and averaged 13.4 points and a team-high 6.1 assists. The Arizona
product has been the Blazers’ lead guard for the six-plus seasons.
With the 13th overall pick, Portland could be faced with the selecting a
foreign player. However, Ratliff has one year left on his contract and could
be packaged with the Blazers’ first pick to move up in the draft.
Key Player(s): Shareef-Abdur Rahim (forward), Derek Anderson (guard), Darius
Miles (forward), Zach Randolph (forward), Theo Ratliff (center), Damon
Team Needs: Depth and a shooting guard.
Draft picks: 1st round (13th overall), 1st round (23rd overall), 2nd round