Wednesday , May , 23 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Winning lottery will have immediate impact on Portland

(Sports Network) – By securing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft,
the Portland Trail Blazers may have punched their ticket into the 2008
playoffs.

Portland will make the first choice in the draft for the first time since
1978. The Trail Blazers selected Minnesota big man Mychal Thompson with the
top pick that year.

The prize for winning this year’s lottery is Ohio State’s Greg Oden, who has
been compared to former San Antonio Spurs great David Robinson. The Trail
Blazers, who finished with a 32-50 record in the 2006-07 campaign and missed
the playoffs for a fourth straight year, had the sixth-best chance (5.3
percent) of winning the lottery.

Oden will have an immediate impact on the Trail Blazers, and should be able to
help them get right back into the postseason. Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy,
who represented Portland at the lottery, and point guard Jarrett Jack make up
a solid backcourt, while LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished his rookie campaign,
Zach Randolph and Travis Outlaw are all young and talented frontcourt players.

Roy averaged 16.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 57 games during the
2006-07 campaign, while Jack, who completed his second season in the league,
posted 12.0 points and a team-best 5.3 assists per game. The 25-year-old
Randolph led the Trail Blazers in scoring (23.6 ppg) and rebounding (10.3
rpg).

Add Oden to the mix, and Portland is ready to do some serious damage in the
Western Conference. The seven-foot Oden already has a decent low-post game and
will be dangerous defensively. He will block shots and help the Trail Blazers
improve their transition game, which goes a long way against the competition
out West.

The Trail Blazers will not and can not mess this up. There won’t be deja vu
here. Are you thinking about 1984 when they selected Kentucky center Sam Bowie
at No. 2 instead of North Carolina’s Michael Jordan, who was grabbed by
Chicago with the next pick?

Northwest Division-rival Seattle owns the second pick, and has to be very
happy at the prospect of adding multi-talented forward Kevin Durant to its
squad. The Texas product may be the most talented offensive player in the
draft, but he is not a dominant center like Oden.

Maybe there are some teams who would elect to pick Durant over Oden. After
all, there are clubs who already have a solid starting center. But isn’t Oden
one of those players who comes along once in a blue moon?

The answer is yes. While Durant appears to have a very bright future in the
NBA, Oden is a player who you make room for on your roster no matter what it
takes. Unless it is Houston, which has Yao Ming, teams would either move their
current center to power forward or investigate the possibility of a trade.

Oden is going to be that good from the start. He does not need to sit on
Portland’s bench and learn the NBA game by watching. The Ohio State product is
ready to contribute in a big way right from the opening tip of the 2007-08
season.

Portland fans, don’t worry. The front office is well aware that the best move
is to simply pick Oden. The Trail Blazers will ignore all the trade talk and
won’t let any of the general managers in the league entice them with an offer
for this year’s prize.

The Trail Blazers really did win the lottery!