Blazersedge Scrubdown Round 2, Matchup #3

Time for the third matchup of the second round of the Blazersedge Scrubdown, determining Portland fans' favorite not-quite-superstar in red and black.

Wayne Cooper was another of those players whose place in team history was cemented as much by his timing and position as talent.  He actually had his best seasons for a conference rival, Denver, to whom the Blazers traded him (along with almost every other horse in the stable) in exchange for Kiki Vandeweghe.  Before that he was a mildly-promising 6'10" center acquired from the Mavericks (along with the draft pick that would become Terry Porter) for rookie phenom Kelvin Ransey.  He played two seasons with the Blazers, 1982-83 and 1983-84.  He started 60 games in his first year but played only 26 minutes per game due to a combination of copious fouling (he averaged one every 6.5 minutes of play, meaning he would have fouled out nearly every night with true starters minutes) and horrific field goal shooting for a pivot.  To be fair, his offense was more face-up than post so his 44.3% clip should be compared more to a modern power forward than a traditional center.  To be even more fair that team featured Kenny Carr and Calvin Natt, both of whom were post players.  Even so, coaches of the era, including Jack Ramsay, probably were wincing at the idea of their center falling 6 points shy of 50%.  But Coop was smart as a whip, knew how to defend, and could rebound strong.  Plus he played in an era where the Blazers were searching for legit centers, with Mychal Thompson being their only viable alternative.  Cooper fit the bill and the fans appreciated having a steady hand in the middle even if he wasn't likely to become the next Walton.  Coop's offense got better in his second year with the Blazers but his minutes and starting position both melted away, leading to his inclusion in the aforementioned Vandeweghe deal.  Cooper would return to the team in 1989, reprising his role as a rebounder and steady hand, this time behind starter Kevin Duckworth.  Portland fans felt great getting one of the Vandeweghe players back and appreciated his balanced gait amongst the mercurial stallions that roamed the court during the Drexler days.  Plus, as always, it was nice to have a big body filling the vacuum. He retired as a Blazer in 1992.   It's a mark of Cooper's play that until this day, when I looked up his stats in the link above, I would have sworn to you Coop was a 7-footer.  That's how important his role was and how big the help he gave made him seem.

Stacey Augmon was typical of Portland's acquisitions at the height of the Bob Whitsitt era.  He came to the Blazers at age 28, just into his prime after a long tenure in Atlanta and a hardcore basketball upbringing before that at UNLV.  Portland traded three young guys (including Aaron McKie) to pry him away from the Pistons where he languished for but 20 games.  He stayed with the Blazers for the next 4 1/2 years, primarily as a reserve but occasionally as a spot starter.  He never averaged more than 20.4 minutes per game.  His highest scoring average was 5.7 in his first year, also by far his most ineffectual shooting year with Portland.  His offense wasn't anywhere near pretty...unless you mean pretty limited.  He got his time because the guy could guard anything that moved short of Shaq himself.  Plastic Man would regularly tie opponents in knots, making dribblers pick up the ball with regularity, picking pockets, and grabbing rebounds that seemed two feet too far away for him to touch.  Augmon coming on the court was never a cause for fan celebration.  In fact you knew the offense would suffer.  Rather it was a, "Let's put a stop to this right now" moment, like calling the Vice Principal into the classroom.  It was a good vibe, especially since he was backing up the notoriously inconsistent Isiah Rider.  Augmon spent his prime years in Portland even through his inclusion in the massive trade that made Scottie Pippen a Blazer (which immediately eliminated the need for his skill set on the roster, though he would return after being waived).  He spent his final years in Charlotte/New Orleans and Orlando.

Two defensive players, each in great position to showcase their skills for this franchise.  Which one moves on to the semi-finals?  Vote now.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)  

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