NBA Legend Praises Breakers' Recruit
Portland Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups has backed Breakers' NBL Next Star Rayan Rupert, and all of his side’s newest draftees, to contribute to the franchise immediately, and believes what they may lack in age, they make up for in experience.
Former NBL Next Star Rupert was selected by the Trail Blazers with the 43rd pick in last week’s draft, and has joined up with third overall pick Scoot Henderson and 23rd overall pick Kris Murray.
Billups has been the head coach of the Trail Blazers since 2021 and made the move into coaching following a 17 season NBA career that saw him win a championship, Finals MVP and five All-Star selections.
“It’s not often you have [picks] three, 23 and 43 and you come away with three guys who were invited to the green room. That’s a huge accomplishment,” Billups said.
“The way I see these guys, their age is pretty young, but they don’t play that way. Their IQ is different to a normal guy their age and there’s a reason why they’re here.
“Rayan has played pro in a very, very physical, tough league in Australia. I don’t feel like these dudes are young. I feel like they can contribute right away.”
Of Portland’s three draft selections only one – Murray – followed the traditional pathway of playing collegiate basketball on the road to getting drafted.
The Trail Blazers’ first pick of the night – Henderson – played for the NBA G-League Ignite alongside former Next Star Mojave King, while Rupert elected to pursue professional basketball with the Breakers.
“It was a great opportunity to grow as a player and as a person and play far from my country,” Rupert said of his experience in New Zealand.
“It was an amazing journey and now I’m happy to be here.
“I will try to earn my minutes by my energy and my defence at the beginning and do whatever the coach wants me to do to help the team … and I will keep working on all aspects of my game.
“When my agent told me ‘Portland want you’ I said ‘ok let’s go. I want to be a Blazer,’ and I was happy.”