Portland has made the playoffs for three straight seasons, yet the team is still hurting for a point guard, as well as a young big man to play alongside LaMarcus Aldridge. The Blazers seemed to have it all figured out after drafting Brandon Roy, Aldridge and Greg Oden in a two-year span, and were the "hot" young team that many pundits had as a future NBA title contender. A degenerative knee condition has already ended Brandon Roy's career after three All-Star Game appearances, and Greg Oden has played in less than a quarter of the team's games since being drafted #1 overall, leaving Aldridge as the face of the franchise.
Aldridge has been playing at an All-Star level the last year and a half, and was just announced as a reserve in this years' game while averaging 23.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Part of the problem for Portland has been its bad performance in recent drafts.
In 2007, Portland won the NBA Draft lottery and selected former Ohio State center Greg Oden. Oden was widely viewed as a game-changer in the middle, who at 7'0", 255 pounds, had the size and athleticism that had many believing he was a once-in-a-generation type of player. Injuries have seen Oden on the sideline since fracturing his kneecap in December of 2009. Here's is the team's draft history since the 2004 season.
PG Sebastian Telfair, 13th overall
SF/PF Viktor Khryapa, 22nd overall
SG/SF Sergei Monia, 23rd overall
C Ha Seung-Jin, 47th overall
Analysis: Among the players the Blazers could have drafted instead of this current crop include Al Jefferson (15th), Josh Smith (17th), J.R. Smith (18th), Jameer Nelson (20th), Kevin Martin (26th) Anderson Varejao (31st) and Trevor Ariza (44th). Only one player is still in the league (Telfair), though Khryapa was used in a 2006 Draft day trade that landed Portland LaMarcus Aldridge.
SG/SF Martell Webster, 6th overall
PG Jarrett Jack, 22nd overall
Analysis: The Blazers chose to trade the #3 overall pick to Utah for the 6th overall pick and 27th overall pick (which Portland flipped, along with the 35th pick for Jarrett Jack), passing on both Deron Williams and Chris Paul. Among the other players that could have been taken include Andrew Bynum (10th), Danny Granger (17th), David Lee (30th), Monta Ellis (40th), Lou Williams (45th) and Marcin Gortat (57th). Jack has been playing well this season replacing Chris Paul at point guard in New Orleans.
PF LaMarcus Aldridge, 2nd overall
SG Brandon Roy, 6th overall
PG Sergio Rodriguez, 27th overall
PF Joel Freeland, 30th overall
Analysis: Portland wheeled-and-dealed throughout the evening, including deals for Aldridge (Tyrus Thomas, selected 4th overall, along with Viktor Khryapa) and Roy (Randy Foye, selected 7th overall, and cash considerations). Between the 27th and 60th pick, some others that could have been in PDX include Paul Millsap (47th) and Leon Powe (49th). Overall, you really couldn't have asked for a better draft than this, as both Roy (3x) and Aldridge (1x) have been selected as All-Stars.
C Greg Oden, 1st overall
SG Rudy Fernandez, 22nd overall
PG Petteri Koponen, 30th overall
PF Josh McRoberts, 37th overall
PG Taurean Green, 52nd overall
Analysis: The Blazers won the draft lottery and selected Oden ahead of now perennial All-Star Kevin Durant with the first pick, which was a franchise-altering decision. Fernandez was much more sizzle than susbstance in Portland, and will be going back to play for Spanish team Real Madrid after he finishes this season with the Denver Nuggets. McRoberts has been a solid role player in the NBA for the Pacers and Lakers, while Koponen had his draft rights traded on draft night, and Green washed out in just a little over a season. Others that could have been chosen include Durant (2nd), Al Horford (3rd), Mike Conley Jr. (4th), Joakim Noah (9th), Rodney Stuckey (15th), Carl Landry (31st), Glen Davis (35th) and Marc Gasol (48th).
PG/SG Jerryd Bayless, 11th overall
SG/SF Nicolas Batum, 25th overall
Analysis: The Blazers were again active on Draft day, sending Jack, McRoberts and the draft rights to Brandon Rush (13th overall) for Ike Diogu and the draft rights of Bayless. They also acquired the draft rights to Batum for a package that included the rights to Donte Greene (28th overall) and Joey Dorsey (33rd overall). Bayless is a rotation player for the Raptors, while Batum has started the majority of his time in Portland, though is currently a sixth man type player for Portland. Solid draft for the Blazers.
SF Victor Claver, 22nd overall
PF Jeff Pendegraph, 31st overall
PF Dante Cunningham, 33rd overall
PG Patty Mills, 55th overall
Analysis: The Blazers traded up two spots with the Mavericks to draft Claver, who has yet play for Portland. The Cunningham pick came from the Clippers in a previous trade, and Mills was acquired in a three-team deal with Denver and Chicago. Pendegraph is an end-of-the-bench player in Indiana, while Cunningham was a part of the deal that brought Gerald Wallace to PDX, and is currently a role player for Memphis. Mills signed with a Chinese team during the NBA lockout, and will likely try to sign with an NBA team soon. Both Cunningham and Mills provided the Blazers energy off the bench from 2009 to early 2011. Other players that could have been drafted include Taj Gibson (26th), Toney Douglas (29th), DeJuan Blair (37th) and Jonas Jerebko (39th).
SF Luke Babbitt, 16th overall
SG Elliot Williams, 22nd overall
PG Armon Johnson, 34th overall
Analysis: The Blazers acquired F Ryan Gomes and the draft rights to Luke Babbitt in a trade with Minnesota for Martell Webster. Babbitt has yet to find any consistent minutes, and has yet to prove he's an NBA ready player. Williams missed nearly his entire rookie season dealing with knee injuries, but is seeing spot minutes at shooting guard for Portland. Johnson made a splash early in his rookie season, but careless ball-handling and questionable shot selection landed him either on the end of the bench, or in the NBA Developmental League. Other options included Jordan Crawford (27th), Greivis Vasquez (28th) and Landry Fields (39th).
PG Nolan Smith, 21st overall
SG Jon Diebler, 51st overall
Analysis: Smith has seen spot minutes behind Raymond Felton at point guard, but is still working on transitioning from playing largely shooting guard in his four years at Duke. Diebler is currently playing in Greece, but could be a solid situational shooter in the league, as he shot 50.2% from deep in his senior season at Ohio State. Current rookies that could've been in Portland include MarShon Brooks (25th), Chandler Parsons (38th), Jeremy Tyler (39th), Josh Harrellson (45th) and Isaiah Thomas (60th).
Of the 25 players on this list, there are seven players currently on the roster, but only three of those that were selected in 2009 or earlier (Aldridge, Batum and Oden). There are three that have yet to come over from Europe (Koponen, Freeland and Claver), which doesn't include Jon Diebler, who is playing in Greece this season. Two players (Roy and Aldridge) have been selected as All-Stars in that time frame. Seven players are currently out of the NBA (Khryapa; Monia; Seung-Jin; Roy: injury; Rodriguez; Green; Mills: signed overseas), and only two are starters on their respective teams (Aldridge and Jack). Ultimately, I believe the front office has to do a better job of finding quality NBA players in order for Portland to be able to go from a playoff also-ran to a legitimate contender.