Names narrowed down to five as draft approaches

TUALATIN, Ore. — With five days remaining before the 2010 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers are down to five players.

The Blazers hold the No. 22 overall pick in the first round of the draft, which is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Thursday in New York.

After working out a variety of prospects this week at the team’s practice facility, Portland director of college scouting Chad Buchanan said Saturday that the organization has begun the final stages of its selection process.

If the Blazers hold on to their first-round pick, the team plans to select the best player available, regardless of position or need. Moreover, the five names that have made Portland’s final cut comprise a diverse mixture of athletes with a varying range of assets and attributes.

“It’s always been our philosophy that you go after the best player you can get,” said Buchanan, following a draft workout. “You don’t want to draft for need all the time, especially if you’re up in the first round. Because if you draft on need right now, your need a year from now may be completely different, and you’ve passed on a more talented player.”

But while the Blazers have traded months filled with scouting and background research for the ability to now focus in on a core group of prospects, the possibilities remain wide open in regards to how the organization might use the pick.

Despite facing an uncertain future, Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard has been as active as ever in the period leading up to the draft. As a result, chances appear even that Portland could hold on to the pick, trade it to move up or down in the draft, or use it as part of a package deal to acquire a big-name player already on an NBA roster.

The Blazers also hold the No. 44 overall selection in the second round, which gives Portland another bargaining tool. And the fact that the team possesses one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the league — the Blazers have three legitimate starters at the center position, while Portland currently runs four deep at power forward and point guard — means that Pritchard could be fully armed by the time draft picks start appearing on the board Thursday.

“Our scouts do an unbelievable job of getting us prepared,” Pritchard said.

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