Every franchise in the NBA gets hit with the occasional draft misfortune bust that haunts them for years to come. Players such as Anthony Bennett, Darko Milicic and Kwame Brown are some of the most famous draft busts of all time, with their teams regretfully looking back at draft night decisions.
One franchise that particularly has plenty of overwhelmingly bad draft busts however is the Portland Trail Blazers. In recent years, they have found luck by getting All-Star point guard Damian Lillard in the 2012 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, it hasn’t always been pretty for Portland. Here are the top 5 worst draft mistakes in Portland Trail Blazer history.
5. Barry Parkhill (1973 Draft)
In the 1973 draft, with the 15th overall pick, the Trail Blazers selected Barry Parkhill. This pick wasn’t a great player, but the Trail Blazers fortunately didn't have to deal with him, because Parkhill chose to play in the ABA for the Virginia Squires instead of playing in Portland.
There were many players drafted after this pick, such as Swen Nater, who enjoyed a long NBA career. So not only were great players selected right after Parkhill and Portland's pick, but the Trail Blazers essentially wasted a pick. This was one of their many woeful draft mistakes in the 70’s.
4. Wally Walker (1976 Draft)
Wally Walker was selected with the 5th overall pick by the Trail Blazers in the 1974 NBA Draft, only a year after the mistake that was Barry Parkhill. Walker is more known for being the CEO/President of the Seattle Supersonics rather than his short stint with the Trail Blazers.
He averaged only 5.1 points per game in 75 games for them across two seasons. Walker was selected over Hall of Famer and Celtics legend Robert Parish, who was selected with the 8th overall pick. Parish enjoyed a 21-year career in the NBA, and was part of 4 Celtics championship teams.
3. Greg Oden (2007 Draft)
Greg Oden will go down as one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history, which is really unfortunate to say.
Oden was selected 1st overall in the 2007 NBA Draft and had all the talent scouts looked for in a big man. Oden caught the injury bug early on in his career unfortunately and couldn’t sustain a consistently healthy career.
Portland chose Oden over Texas product Kevin Durant, who has been very successful for the Thunder and Warriors up to this point in his career. Durant has won an MVP award and is one of the most dynamic scorers this game has ever seen.
A frontcourt pairing of Durant and Aldridge would’ve been ridiculously dominant offensively, and who would've known what the Trail Blazers could’ve done with those two on the roster.
2. LaRue Martin (1972 Draft)
A lot of people are probably wondering how Oden was only number 3 on this list. Those people don’t know of LaRue Martin.
Martin was selected with the 1st overall pick in the 1972 NBA Draft, after receiving a lot of hype during his time at Loyola University Chicago, outplaying future teammate Bill Walton in a matchup against UCLA. He played 4 seasons with the Blazers and averaged 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. After 4 seasons, he suddenly retired after being outplayed constantly by Bill Walton, who was drafted two years after Martin.
The Trail Blazers sat on and watched helplessly as 2nd overall pick Bob McAdoo and 12th overall pick Julius Erving enjoyed themselves Hall of Fame careers. More often than not, you usually get a franchise player out of a number 1 overall pick, and unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, they passed up on two all-time greats for a player who had no impact at all for his franchise.
1. Sam Bowie (1984 Draft)
One of the most infamous draft busts of all time, of course Sam Bowie had to be number one on this list.
Bowie was selected 2nd overall in the 1984 draft in front of the G.O.A.T Michael Jordan. Bowie showed brief signs of great basketball, but couldn’t seem to stay healthy enough while with the Trail Blazers, missing the entire 1987-88 season due to a leg injury.
He only played 139 games with the team and went on to have some above average seasons for the Nets, averaging 10.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game for his career.