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Trail Blazers Get Their Guys In Another Exciting Draft Night

06/25/10
  1. Written by: trailblazers

    The Portland Trail Blazers have developed a reputation as an aggressive team on draft night. They decide who their targets are, then do whatever they can to go get them. Draft 2010 was no different, with the Blazers acquiring three collegiate players, small forward Luke Babbitt from Nevada, guard Elliot Williams of Memphis and guard Armon Johnson, also of Nevada and veteran Ryan Gomes from Minnesota.

    "These were three guys we had targeted on our draft board," said Mike Born, Portland's director of NBA scouting, "so we were really excited to be able to add those guys, not only as players but people."

    Gomes and the draft rights to forward Babbitt were acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for guard/forward Martell Webster.

    Selected in the first round by Minnesota with the 16th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Babbitt averaged 21.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.03 steals and shot 50 percent from the field (251-for-502) in 2009-10, earning WAC Player of the Year and Honorable Mention All-American honors as a sophomore at Nevada. A 6-9, 225-pound forward, Babbitt, 21, posted averages of 19.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists and shot 48 percent from the floor (445-for-927) in two seasons with the Wolfpack.

    "Luke's a very skilled lefty," said Chad Buchanan, Portland's director of college scouting. "(He) can play both some small forward and some power forward. Can handle the ball, can shoot the ball, can pass the ball. Very multi-dimensional offensive talent."


    What also stuck out in the mind of Portland's coaching staff was Babbitt's interesting in playing in Portland.

    "(He's) very, very excited to be a Blazer," said Buchanan. "We interviewed him back at the pre-draft combine, (he) knew everything about our team. Knows Joel Przybilla very well; they share the same trainer. So very, very excited about Luke, and I know the feeling is mutual. He was pumping his agent through the whole process hoping to find a way that he could get to Portland and it ended up that way tonight. Very excited about that."

    The Trail Blazers had to part with Webster, who averaged 8.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 0.8 assists and shot 37.2 percent (403-for-1082) from 3-point range in five seasons with the Trail Blazers. Portland originally acquired Webster with the sixth overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft out of Seattle Prep.

    "It's always hard giving away, trading away a family member like that," said Buchanan. "Martell has been great for us from Day One. We wish him the best. Obviously going to miss his shooting, miss his personality. I think Martell is going to be a fantastic player in Minnesota and they're very lucky to be getting him.

    After trading for Webster to the Timberwolves for Babbitt and Gomes, Portland used their No. 22 pick on Williams, A 6-5, 180-pound sophomore who's athleticism, according to the Trail Blazers' scouts, instantly makes him one of the premier athletes on the team.

    "Super, super athletic combo guard," said Buchanan. "He's got a long, athletic frame. Can shoot the ball, can attack the rim. I think you'll see some similarities between him and Jerryd Bayless. Always going to attack the basket, create a lot of fouls. Improving as a shooter. Good on-ball defender, plays with a lot of energy, he's got a great motor. Very hungry player. Very excited about his future as well."

    Williams posted averages of 17.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.32 steals in 34 games with the Tigers in 2009-10, earning All-Conference USA First Team and Conference USA Newcomer of the Year honors. He played his freshman year at Duke in 2008-09, where he averaged 4.2 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.7 assists before transferring to Memphis.

    To cap off the night the Trail Blazers took Johnson, who worked out in Portland earlier in the week, with the No. 34 pick, which was acquired on Tuesday from the Warriors for the No. 44 pick and cash considerations.

    "He's got some toughness," said Buchanan. "Point guard, obviously Luke's teammate at University of Nevada. He came in, had a very good workout for us last week. Can really defend, can get in the paint. Strong, physical point guard. I know Armon and Luke are very excited to be drafted by the same team. I don't think that was something they planned on going into tonight but it's kind of how things played out tonight."

               

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