ChrisHaynes, CSNNW.com Trail Blazers Insider (@ChrisBHaynes)
Tualatin There's no question that the Portland Trail Blazers need toaddress two needs this off-season: the point guard position and thecenter spot.
Twoof the six participants the Trail Blazers worked out this morningduring their first pre-draft session were 7-footers: 7-1 MeyersLeonard out of the University of Illinois and 7-0 Tyler Zeller out ofthe University of North Carolina.
Bothare very good prospects and are stark contrast to one another.
Bothplayed to their strengths, interim head coach Kaelb Canales said.I think Tyler got a real nice stroke to about 15-17 feet. I thinkeventually he'll be able to shoot that NBA three-point ball. Myerswas really physical. But they both got good touch around the basket,but my favorite part was they were pretty solid defensively.
Zelleris more polished around the basket and on most nights, will beat hisdefender down the court. He says this is his first of six workouts hehas scheduled and his familiarity with the Trail Blazers and how theyget up and down, intrigues him.
Ifollowed them (Trail Blazers) a little bit, Zeller said. I knowRaymond Felton...North Carolina guy. I love watching them play. Theyget up and down the court.
Helater added, My speed is something that everyone knows about, butI think I can prove that I can shoot the ball better than most peoplethink.
Leonard who is forgoing his junior year is your prototypical big manwho will protect the paint and is surprisingly athletic for his size.
I'vebeen working on my skill set really hard over the offseason andextending my range, working my back-to-the-basket, just working oneverything...But mainly the ability to change the game with myathleticism.
TheTrail Blazers are projected to have the No.11 pick and if everythinggoes to plan, they'll attain the New Jersey Nets' No. 6 pick. Zelleris currently in that 10-15 draft range with Leonard anywhere from15-25.
Basically,both players are a potential Trail Blazer draft picks with their No.11 selection.
FormerSyracuse Orangemen Kris Joseph was on site this morning. He's a 6-7wing player who could be a late first round pick. He recently wentthrough graduation and wasn't in the best of shape today.
Headmittedly feels like he's not in great shape right now, but he'sgetting in better shape, acting general manager Chad Buchanansaid. He went through graduation so he got maybe a later start onpreparing for some of these workouts than some of these other guysdid.
He'sa big wing with a really nice shooting stroke. Needs to be a littlemore aggressive at times. He can defer to people a little too much,but he's a good player.
The6-5 Kent Bazemore out of Old Dominion, the 5-10 Casper Ware out ofLong Beach State, and the 6-2 Garrett Sim from the University ofOregon rounded out today's field.
Asit stands now, these three players aren't viewed to be the top 60players to come out this year. However, that's not stopping them fromtrying to be.
Thisis Ware's third stop having worked out for the Golden State Warriorsand the Cleveland Cavaliers last week. Known as a scorer in college,Ware will have to prove that he can run a team and prove that hissmall stature won't be a hindrance at the next level.
Oneof my dad's friends closely is Greg Anthony. He's a smaller guard. Hejust give me ways to get around things, Ware said. You can'treally do anything about your height. So,he tells me all the time,'Don't focus on that. Just focus on what you can change, and that'syour game, your floaters, making people work hard for their shots.'
Bazemore two time Colonial Athletic Assciation Defensive Player of theYear knows he's fighting an uphill battle, but says he looks atveteran role players in the league and finds inspiration.
Ifyou look at Shane Battier, he's not piling up a lot of stats, buthe's a difference maker on the defensive end, Bazemore said.That's what I hope to do. I didn't play in the conference thatKris (Joseph) played in so I got to show teams that I can play strongdefense at the next level.
Simis just enjoying the experience. This hometown kid said he used todrive past the Trail Blazers practice facility in hopes that one dayhe'll be working out there. With that accomplished, he says the nextstep is trying to make a summer roster.
Thisis fun...My goal has been to try and get on a summer league team,Sim said. I know I'm going to have to work for everything I getbecause I'm not a big-name guy. But, hard work has gotten me a lot ofplaces throughout my years, and if I just continue to work, I thinkthat can take me a lot of great places.
Overall,the Trail Blazers were able to assess a couple of the top big men inthe draft and also got a look at some players that might be aroundwhen the Trail Blazers pick at No. 40 and No. 41. In that regard,today was a success.
Avery competitive workout and I'll say it was a very physicalworkout, Buchanan said. This is what you want.