Portland Trail Blazers: NBA draft grade for CJ Elleby

The Portland Trail Blazers sent their first-round pick to the Houston Rockets. They used their second-round pick in the NBA draft on CJ Elleby.

The Portland Trail Blazers made their big move with their draft picks when they traded pick 16 and Trevor Ariza for Robert Covington in a smart trade which makes their team stronger. They are in win-now mode and a mid-first-round pick would not have moved the needle enough.

The Blazers are just above the salary cap with only nine contracted players. Rodney Hood opted-out of his contract in an effort to sign a bigger, long-term deal in the upcoming free-agency. This left the Blazers with a fairly large hole to fill.

They need to re-sign key players Hassan Whiteside and Carmelo Anthony, along with some reliable bench pieces. The Trail Blazers have one of the best backcourts in NBA history to go along with an incredibly strong frontcourt. They are the real deal in 2020-21, barring injury issues.

With the 46th pick, the Portland Trail Blazers select CJ Elleby

With their remaining pick, number 46, the Trail Blazers selected CJ Elleby out of Washington State. The 6’6″ 200 lbs wing spent two years in college, honing his game. He was the third-fastest player in Washington State history to score 1,000 points.

This would be what drew the Trail Blazers to Elleby with this pick. He is a good floor spacing wing who can also impact the game at the defensive end of the court. His length was useful on defense, disrupting passing lanes and causing deflections.

Elleby has the potential to become a serviceable 3-and-D player. As stated above, Elleby has good length and a good basketball IQ which allows him to deflect the ball and go for steals. However, Elleby is also a good 3-point shooter.

In his freshman year, Elleby shot the long ball at 41.4 percent on 4.0 attempts per game. His percentage regressed in his second year to 33.9 percent on 6.8 attempts per game. The volume and extra attention caused his percentage to drop.

However, one area of his game that improved from his freshman year to his sophomore season was his free throw percentage. As a freshman, he shot the ball at 66.1 percent from the line. Last season he shot the ball at 82.3 percent, showing good growth.

Elleby also uses his basketball smarts to help his team out on the boards. He is an excellent rebounder for a wing, averaging 7.5 rebounds per game over his two seasons. This will be a tremendous help to the Blazers if they do not re-sign Hassan Whiteside.

Obviously, Elleby is behind Covington in the depth chart. If the Blazers re-sign Anthony, he will be behind the 36-year-old as well. However, Elleby is a potential player of the future who may not get huge amounts of court time next season.

However, the Blazers try and develop their talent, meaning that he will get some opportunities as the year goes on. His length may even allow the Blazers to play some small ball with Elleby at the four, creating space for his backcourt stars with his ability to shoot the 3-ball.

Draft Grade: B-