Welcome to the latest installment of 30 Teams, 30 Years, 30 Drafts featuring the Portland Trailblazers. This series takes you through each of the teams’ draft picks from 1978-2008 and evaluates how they fared. Here is the draft history for the Portland Trailblazers. The Blazers ended with a final score of 2.708 which is right around the average. However is that really a score you would expect from a team that only missed the playoffs 6 times in the 30 year time period we are examining, a stretch that included 21 straight years making the playoffs. The problem with the Blazers is that yes they drafted a lot of good players, but they also made two of the biggest historic draft blunders of all time in this time frame, a fact I expound upon further in the notes. Those two mistakes alone contributed to 19 negative points using my scoring system. In fact without included negative points the Blazers score would have been 3.231, a score which would have been much more befitting a team with their playoff chops. Alas, it was not meant to be. Here is your Trailblazers draft history.
Total Score: 2.708
Let us know in the comments below who you think their best and worst draft picks were.
To see how the score was calculated, check out the intro post here.
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1- Mychal was the first number one overall pick to be born in foregin country (The Bahamas).
2- His son is Ronnie Brewer, which made them the first father-son combo to both play for the Bulls. He was also drafted over All Star Reggie Theus.
3- Apparently Andrew Fields was one of the best players in the PBA, The Philippine Basketball Association. He’s also the coach of Atlantic Cape Community College. I don’t why wikipedia felt I needed to know this, but because I had to read it in my research, I decided you should have to read it as well.
4- You may know Lafayette better by his nickname of Fat Lever. 9 year old me loved opening a pack of basketball cards and finding one that said “Fat Lever”. Lafayette is also one of only three players to have 15 points, assists and rebounds in a single playoff game. The other two being Wilt Chamberlain and Jason Kidd.
5- I don’t know why, I was never a huge Clyde fan. Maybe because in my heart there is only one Clyde. Maybe it is because of his mini-breakdown after being deconstructed by Jordan in the 92 Finals. I don’t know. However, he is a Hall of Famer, and more than a borderline case at that. He also has quite the IMDB page. Appearing in Married With Children, Arlis$, The Sentinel, the classic film Like Mike 2: Streetball, Pros vs Joes, Dancing with the Stars and Celebrity Apprentice.
6- Yes, another two footnote athlete. The first I just thought was hilarious because apparently while I was doing my Trailblazers research someone edited the 1984 draft and made the first overall pick Mark Sheamus. This is why you double check all your research. My guess is the page was edited by someone named Mark Sheamus.
7- Now onto Sam Bowie himself. I feel as if the Trailblazers should lose every single one of their points for drafting Bowie over Jordan and Charles Barkley and then making the same mistake again about 25 years later (see later for a longer rant). All signs pointed to Jordan being a sure thing. Bob Knight famously said that if the Blazers needed a center so badly they should draft Jordan and play him at center. They were burned by a big guy with a shaky injury history just 5 years or so earlier, but most have been blinded by the one title they won with him. David Bowie was not a bad pro when he was actually on the court, but those moments were so few and far between. While nobody foresaw Michael becoming THE greatest player of all time, many thought he was going to be one of the greats. Something that is clear when one rewatches this draft on TV, as pointed out by Bill Simmons in his book. It was a mistake then, and when looked back upon, it is one of the greatest mistakes ever.
8- While George Montgomery never played in the NBA he has given the NBA more than he could have ever hoped for. For you see, George is the father of current NBA superstar, JaVale “Pierre” McGee.
9- Arvydas did not make it to the NBA until well past his prime. He was an 8 time European player of the year, 8 TIMES, before finally making his way over to the NBA. Stupid Cold War. He serves as one of the greatest “What Ifs” in the history of the NBA. What if he came to the NBA earlier? Do the Blazers win some titles? Because he was THAT good.
10- Not really anything on Nikita, more a note on the Blazers drafting trend. This draft marks the 4th time in 10 years that as some point in the draft the Blazers have drafted with back to back picks. I just found this interesting.
11- The most impressive Cliff Robinson stat is that he played 18 seasons in the NBA, making the playoffs in 17 of those seasons.
12- When asked about Duke’s strong academics Alaa is quotes as saying, “The only way I can make 5 A’s is if I sign my time.” He is also the first player alphabetically in the history of the NBA, just beating out Abdul-Jabbar. This will be the only category that Alaa is beating Kareem in I assume.
13- Jermaine O’Neal was possibly on pace for a Hall of Fame career, then fell apart. Many will blame this on injuries, I do not. I look to November 19th, 2004. I could write a whole post on this, but Jermaine just wasn’t the same after this. My theory, he was a genuinely nice guy at heart who was painted as a villain for his role in the brawl. A role that in all reality was one of nothing more than self defense. Mentally he couldn’t handle being the villain, he wasn’t wired that way, and his game suffered. Maybe this is all BS, but it’s my theory, and I believe it.
14- Something happened in the 2010-11 season where a switch seemed to flip in Z-Bo’s head where he said, “I could be virtually unstoppable if I really applied myself and developed a killer inside-outside game” and he did. Every Blazers and Knicks fan (and to a lesser extend Clippers fans) watched and said, “Sure, now he does it.” His playoff run that year was something special and the Thunder were barely able to hold of his Grizzlies in the second round.
15- Travis has 92 starts in his career and logged in 5 for the Kings last year. This was a tough one. Based on the fact that he has three years remaining on the books for a pretty bad Kings team, I decided that he’ll most likely find those 8 starts somewhere.
16- Travis was drafted at the height of the “Jailblazers” era. One of my favorite yearly columns to read is Bill Simmons’ running diary of the NBA Draft. The 2003 version featured this gem; “On the bright side, here come the Blazers! And there’s a high schooler named “Outlaw” still on the board! And he has some baggage! This is too easy….Yep, the Blazers take Outlaw. Unbelievably believable. That pick was so predictable that Tolbert had a joke ready for it.” The best part of this is, everyone who watched the draft knew this joke was coming, and it was still hilarious.
17- Ha is the first player from Korea to play in the NBA.
18- I wanted to give credit to LMA for 3 or more ASGs, but the NBA is just so flush with power forwards, especially the west that I just can’t. It’s tough to make an ASG when you share a position with Duncan, Dirk, Z-Bo, Gasol the Elder, Boogie Cousins, Blake and others.
19- It’s amazing how quickly I had forgotten how good Brandon Roy was. He was 2nd team all NBA. The people who actually get paid to write about basketball thought he was one of the four best guards in the world. For a second I started to wonder why people didn’t make a bigger deal about his signing with Wolves. Then I remembered he has not cartilage in either of his knees. Sad story, but it’s hard to see him ever becoming the same player again.
20- If I could write a whole post on Jermaine I could write a book on Greg Oden. All the good will the Blazers acquired from drafting well in the 2006 draft was shot to hell. This was THE dumbest pick in the history of the NBA draft. Not because they made a mistake, but they made the SAME MISTAKE! Everyone knew that Durant was a sure thing scorer who would most likely get his 25 a night and make several all star games, this was what many people thought was his basement. Everyone was worried about Oden because he was injured for most of his one year in college and looked like he was actually 40 years old. Sound familiar? Well it should, change the names to Jordan and Bowie and the same team made the same mistake 23 years earlier. And guess what; The same thing happened!!! I love Portland fans, I will be attending my first game in Portland this March, I would love to get myself a TARDIS (For those of us who aren’t nerds, this is the time machine from Doctor Who) and go back in time to June 27th, 2007. Once there I would take a poll of every Blazers fan and see whether they wanted Oden or Durant. I bet it would come out like 90/10% in favor of Durant, because fans never forget. Owners come and go, as do GMs, but fans are forever and I guarantee if you had a legit Blazers fan in that front office they would have been screaming until their face was red that its Bowie over Jordan all over again.
21- Petteri just signed a 3 year deal with a Russian club. However he will only be 27 when that contract runs out, had an excited summer league performance a few years back, and some NBA clubs seem to still have atleast a passing interest in him. So for now, I will give him an incomplete.
22- I may be reaching here because his highest scoring season 13.9 ppg, but I truly believe that Batum will average 16ppg more than once. He is a 6’8” swingman who can drain threes at a 40% clip (Please don’t tell me averages 37% for his career, I know this, I said CAN). So Batum gets credit for multiple 16 ppg seasons, because it’s my series damn it!
View the previous teams and their scores here:
Boston Celtics – 3.885
Philadelphia 76ers – 2.561
Toronto Raptors – 2.659
Orlando Magic – 2.861
Charlotte Bobcats – 2.225
New York Knicks – 2.471
New Jersey Nets – 2.49
Atlanta Hawks – 1.258
Miami Heat – 2.743
Milwaukee Bucks – 3.616
Chicago Bulls - 2.93
Cleveland Cavaliers – 3.176
Indiana Pacers – 2.762
Washington Wizards – 2.359
Detroit Pistons – 3.877
Minnesota Timberwolves – 2.838
New Orleans Hornets - 3.24
Memphis Grizzlies – 2.652