12. Portland Trail Blazers (via Warriors) choose Tidjane Salaun
In a draft class filled with uncertainty and lacking top-end talent, NBA teams will search for prototypes. It is difficult to find a 6’9 forward who can consistently knock down jumpers. Salaun is shooting 37.6 percent from long range on his first 85 attempts for Cholet Basket in France and hasn’t shot below 35 percent in the last three years.
The 18-year-old is one of the youngest players in this class and his athletic ability gives him defensive upside. Salaun is playing a 20-minute per-game role this season but will need time to be a consistent contributor in the NBA. The counting stats may never pop off the screen, but 6’9 floor spacers are valuable.
Salaun is also getting 1.2 steals per game and could be an impactful contributor on both ends of the floor. NBA teams want him to improve his rebounding, playmaking, and defense, but if the shot translates, the 18-year-old could become a rotation piece quickly.
The Trail Blazers are just starting a rebuild with three talented young guards and a former number-one overall pick at center. They need impact forwards. Portland took Ron Holland in the top five, and there is only one ball. Having a spot-up shooter and defensive playmaker could be just what the doctor ordered in Rip City.