The Trail Blazers didn't exactly placate Damian Lillard's demand for change by trading into the second round of the NBA draft. But at least Portland, palpably silent ever since the controversial hiring of Chauncey Billups, made some move to improve the roster during the league's player-movement preamble to free agency.
The Blazers dealt a future second-round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for the No. 43 choice in Thursday's draft, according to ESPN, which they then used to nab Texas forward Greg Brown.
Jason Quick of The Athletic later reported that Portland sent a 2026 second-rounder and cash to New Orleans in exchange for No. 43.
A consensus top-10 prospect in the high school class of 2020, Brown disappointed relative to sky-high expectations during his lone season with the Longhorns. He averaged 9.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game, shooting 42.0 percent from the field and 33.0 accuracy percent from beyond the arc.
Brown started 24 of 26 games for Shaka Smart as a freshman, somewhat beset—at least offensively— by Texas' wealth of individual talent failing to coalesce. Despite his obvious defensive value on both the perimeter and interior, Brown nearly fell out of the Longhorns' playing rotation altogether by March, notching only six minutes each in the Longhorns' Big XII and NCAA tournament losses.
At least some of Brown's relative struggles in Austin can be chalked up to fit. Teammates and fellow draftees Kai Jones and Jericho Sims were simply better than Jones was in 2020-21, either leaving him out of position at small forward or on the bench during some of Texas' biggest moments.
The intrigue with Brown is clear regardless and starts squarely on the defensive end of the floor, where his combination of positional size and explosive athleticism make him a potential impact player down the line. Brown measured a hair below 6-foot-9 with a wingspan over seven feet at the NBA combine, posting standing and maximum vertical leaps of 33.5 inches and 39.0 inches—both of which ranked second in Chicago among power forwards.
But just like Brown's wealth of jaw-dropping dunks with the Longhorns, even his flashes of defensive prowess come with the broader caveat of substandard feel on both ends of the floor. Brown was a turnover machine on offense in addition to being an inefficient scorer (53.5 percent true shooting), while every soaring weak-side block and impressive perimeter switch was matched by head-scratching bouts of inattentiveness and a lack of physicality as a help defender.
Brown is a project, obviously, but certainly one worth a gamble. Players boasting his physical profile alone are quite rare and ultra-valuable in the modern NBA. Brown's jumper, as much work as it needs to become even semi-consistent, isn't totally broken, either.
Expect the 19-year-old to play most if not all of his rookie campaign in the G-League, putting on weight, honing his shot and watching hours upon hours of film with hopes of rounding out the rough edges of his game.
What does that mean for Lillard? Well, nothing other than the possibility of his frustration continuing to mount.
But long-term and irrespective of their franchise player's future, the Blazers have to feel good about adding a player with impact rotation potential in the middle of the second round—no matter how long it may take for Brown to reach that ceiling.