As we look past the last NBA draft hosted this Thursday, it’s only normal to look at the biggest winners and losers of the night, with a lot of interesting deals taking place once again on one of the most exciting and important nights in the Association.
Several teams were quite aggressive during the evening, trading up or down, triggering their rebuild or just taking a gamble to boost their playoff chances, like the Minnesota Timberwolves sending Kris Dunn and LaVine to the Bulls in order to acquire Jimmy Butler.
But another team that did some interesting teams was the Portland Trail Blazers, a team that has messed up big time during some drafts but that managed to land Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan, a couple of interesting prospects that may not be superstars but that can definitely improve the team.
So, today, we’ll take a look at the top 10 best draft picks in Blazers history, hoping these guys can also take it up a notch and reach basketball’s elite.
10. Jerome Kersey
Kersey was drafted 46th overall by the Trail Blazers back then in 1984 out of Longwood as one of the biggest steals of the night. Coming into the league as a late bloomer, the small forward quietly and slowly made his way into the starting team, helping them contend for the ring on the verge of NBA’s expansion.
Jerome spent 5 seasons at Portland before also playing for the Sonics, Bucks, Lakers and Warriors, finally winning a championship as a member of the 1999-2000 San Antonio Spurs as a veteran off the bench.
9. Bob Gross
Gross was a lockdown defender on the wing as the 25th overall pick of the 1975 NBA Draft, although he only managed to stay in the league for 8 seasons, spending 7 at Portland and the other with the Clippers.
He was never much of an offensive factor, but his great defensive skills definitely helped the Blazers down the stretch on their way to their only title in franchise history, leaving career averages of 8.9 points, 4.4 boards and 2.9 dimes per game to go along with 1.2 steals in just over 24 minutes per game.
8. Mychal Thompson
You may know this guy nowadays as Klay Thompson’s father, but truth to be told, Mychal was one of the most talented players of his era, being mostly remembered as a member of those breath-taking Los Angeles Lakers, but being drafted 1st overall by the Blazers in 1978, where he’d stay until 1986.
The forward-center was extremely talented on both ends of the floor, leaving career averages of 13.7 points, 7.4 boards, 2.3 dimes and 1.1 swats per contest, winning a couple of rings alongside Magic Johnson in Los Angeles.
7. Jim Paxson
The combo guard was chosen 12th overall by Portland the very next year of choosing Thompson, kind of struggling early but blossoming into a very prolific scorer that would help lead the team alongside Mychal after they successful stride for the championship a couple of years earlier.
Spending 10 full seasons in the NBA as a member of the Blazers and the Celtics, Paxson earned the right to make it to a couple of All-Star Games, averaging over 14 points and 2.2 dimes per game on almost 50% from the floor.
6. Clifford Robinson
Robinson was one of the most durable players in Portland Trail Blazers history, being the ultimate leader in team history when it comes to a number of games played with over 461 appearances over a 7 season span, either as a starter or as the first guy off the bench.
This defensive standout was never much of a scorer, but he was more than able to make an impact on the defensive end of the court, making it to 1 All-Defensive Squad and even winning the 92-93 sixth man of the year award.
5. Terry Porter
Porter was the 24th overall pick in the 1985 NBA draft, and after a couple of lousy seasons with little playing time, he took the starting gig to run Portland’s offense for the long run, including their failed attempts to win another NBA championship.
Spending 16 years in the Association, Porter left career averages of 12.2 points and over 5 assists per game, even making it to a couple of All-Stars as a member of the Blazers, Heat, Wolves and Spurs.
4. Arvydas Sabonis
Sabonis will definitely go down as one of the greatest European players in the history of the game, being a very dominant big man out of Lithuania that waited almost 10 years before actually taking his talents to the NBA.
Spending 7 years in the Association, the Hall of Famer let averages of 12 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 dimes on 50% from the court, also swatting 1.1 shots per game despite spending just 24 minutes on the floor on a nightly basis.
3. Bill Walton
Walton was the 1st overall pick in the 1974 NBA draft after winning a couple of championships with UCLA, spending 3 seasons with the Blazers before leaving to play for the Clippers and Celtics as one of the most talented players in the nation, although injuries stalled his growth and improvement as a player.
Still, Walton averaged 13.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.4 helpers per game at Center, making it to 2 All-Stars, winning 1 MVP, 1 Finals MVP, a couple of championships and the 1985-86 Sixth Man of the Year Award.
2. Damian Lillard
Despite still being an active player with just 5 seasons under his belt, it’s pretty safe to say that Lillard has been the 2nd best pick in Blazers history, going 6th overall in the 2012 NBA draft to become the Blazers starting point guard for the future, taking the league for assault from day 1 and winning the Rookie of the Year as well as making it to a couple of All-Stars.
Lillard still has a lot to improve, especially on defense, but his offensive talent and clutchness is undoubted. As the ultimate leader of the team, Lillard let averages of 27 points and almost 6 assists per game on 44.4% from the floor, and the sky seems to be the limit for Big Game Dame.
1. Clyde Drexler
And of course, Drexler is, hands down; the best player to ever lace them up on a Blazers uniform, spending 11 seasons at Portland before finally winning a championship as a member of the Houston Rockets.
In fact, the only reason why Drexler didn’t lead the Blazers to another championship was because he had to fight Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen for it. Still, he made it to 10 All Stars and 5 All NBA teams due to his longevity and versatility, averaging 20.1 points, 6.1 boards and 5.4 assists through his entire career.