In addition to our normal coverage we're running a week-long Event that we think you'll enjoy. We've challenged five of our staff writers to draft their ultimate Portland Trail Blazers roster from current and historical players. Anybody who's ever put on a Portland uniform during the regular season is eligible to be drafted. We're going to unfold the picks throughout the week and ask you, Blazer's Edge readers, to vote on the best overall team on Friday. The winning staff member will get a huge round of applause, an imaginary trophy and fame forevermore!
Here are the rules governing this draft:
You'll be judging between Team Chris, Team Timmay, Team Dane, Team Sam, and Team Sagar. Place your bets early!
Each General Manager will draft 8 players, building their best and most complete 8-man roster.
Teams will draft in a snake format: Round 1--A, B, C, D, E Round 2-- E, D, C, B, A and so on. Chris drew the first overall pick, Timmay was next, followed by Dane, Sam, and Sagar.
Teams can select any Trail Blazer player, past or present. Only a player's years with the Blazers will count when judging teams. In other words, whoever gets Scottie Pippen will be judged by the '99-'03 version, not the earlier Chicago incarnation.
Rosters should be judged as a unit, not just as a collection of talented players. Position and playing style matter, as do all aspects of the game. The actual factoring will be up to you, the judges, but you should consider fit and the overall picture when weighing rosters. We'll have General Managers argue for their logic and choices to let you see how they're developing their squads and help you evaluate. We'll also invite you to give instant critiques as the picks roll in.
And that's about it! We'll do 2 rounds per day from now through Thursday. Chris will be on the clock first with the #1 overall pick, revealed mid-morning, U.S. Pacific Time. Until we get his selection, who would you take if you had the chance? Weigh in below and get ready for some interesting debate as the All-Time Trail Blazer draft unfolds!
With the first pick of the Blazer's Edge All-Time Trail Blazer Draft, Team Chris selects Clyde Drexler.
Going into this draft with the No. 1 pick, I knew there'd be a fairly large -- or at least, vocal -- contingent of Blazers fans who would consider drafting Bill Walton first overall a no-brainer. However, one of the parameters of this draft is that we only get players' years in Portland. With hindsight being 20/20, I could easily see Walton had some glaring injury issues. He was only in Portland four seasons, playing 35, 51, 65 and 58 games a year, respectively, between 1974 and 1978, until a foot injury forced him to miss the entire 1978-79 season. After forcing his way out of Rip City and signing with the San Diego Clippers, Walton proceeded to sit out two of the next three full seasons due to injury. That's not the kind of track record I want for the health of my No. 1 overall pick.
I went with Clyde Drexler because he played 11-and-a-half healthy, productive seasons in Portland, averaging 20.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game as a Blazer -- all while playing fewer than 68 games just once. There's no question that Drexler is the most productive Blazer of all-time; in fact, he's No. 27 all-time in the entire NBA in total assists, No. 45 in total offensive rebounds, No. 43 in total free-throws, No. 29 in total points and No. 7 in total steals, all as a shooting guard! Not only did Drexler have the long-term health to put up those numbers, he had all-time great talent level and ability, with his prime years all in Portland. To me, Drexler was the obvious choice to go with first and build my team around.
With the second pick of the All-Time Blazer draft Team Timmay selects Bill Walton.
By pure luck, I got the easiest pick in the entire draft. Hey, I'll take it. And I may have taken Walton at #1 too. He's the only MVP in Blazers history, and the only man to lead the team to a title. That's an unbeatable resume. Walton was the entire package: He could pass, score, rebound, and famously shut down the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. His biggest weakness was his injury-prone nature, but if he can do all that while injury-prone, I can't complain. Walton could anchor any all-time Blazer lineup with ease.
With the third pick of the All-Time Blazer draft Team Dane selects Maurice Lucas.
Maurice Lucas was the heart and soul around which the Trail Blazers of 1977 were built. The Enforcer put the power in power forward and that helped Portland become a spot for basketball in the NBA. With Lucas still on the board and wanting to build a championship team, it seems an obvious choice to take him at No. 3 overall.
With the fourth pick of the All-Time Blazer draft Team Sam selects Terry Porter.
The first round pick of any draft needs to be one that becomes your franchise player -- it's the guy that's reliable, versatile and a born leader. Porter was one of the ultimate Trail Blazers in that regard: First in team history in assists and three-point field goal attempts/makes (shot 39% from distance as a Blazer), second in team history in points, minutes and steals, and third in team history in games played. Statistically he's one of the greats in franchise lore, and the intangibles -- including a coaching and leadership pedigree -- make him easily worthy of my first selection.
With the fifth pick of the All-Time Blazer draft Team Sagar selects #7, The Natural, Brandon Roy.
People may think that taking Roy this high is a reach, and very well may be. I chose him, however, for two reasons: 1) he'd be gone by the time I'd be on the clock again, and 2) every team needs a closer. Roy had the "clutch gene" that is so valuable. Need proof?
Yes, Lillard has the same "clutch gene" as Roy. The only problem is that Lillard is not tenured enough. In my eyes, he would've been too much of a reach this high.
Round 2 commences with Team Sagar selecting LaMarcus Aldridge, the first current Trail Blazer taken.
At this point in his career, Aldridge is a walking double-double. He also happens to be second in franchise history (yes, since 1970) for field goals attempted during his tenure in Portland (he needs 2,427 more to pass Clyde Drexler, something I could see happening if he remains a Blazer). He is also #4 in win shares behind Drexler, Terry Porter, and Rasheed Wallace. I don't think Aldridge is a reach at #6, but that conversation will end up turning into debating where he ranks on the list of best Blazers in franchise history.
With the 7th pick of the All-Time Blazer draft Team Sam selects Geoff Petrie.
At this point, it's too early to be creative. Really the only goal, after nabbing Porter, is "don't get a player that does exactly what Porter does". While Petrie, the "Original Trail Blazer," indeed was a guard that could distribute the ball (over four assists per game career), he was also the type of guy who could score -- he averaged over 20 points per game in his career, including a franchise-high 51 points in a game that held for over two decades. As a back court, Petrie could play some off the ball, but also could create with it. Ultimately, though his career was cut short due to injury, he showed flashes of brilliance as a Blazer. So, when Team Sam needs a bucket, it goes to Petrie -- more often than not, we'll get it.
With the 8th pick of the All-Time Blazer draft, Team Dane selects Scottie Pippen.
My strategy is to draft the best available players with consideration to where the Blazers were the deepest historically. Portland is sort of thin at point guard, so I felt they would go for a premium. Picking up Scottie Pippen as a de facto backup point guard was the idea here, in addition to being one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history at small forward.
With the 9th pick of the All-Time Blazer draft, Team Timmay selects Damian Lillard.
Damian Lillard at #9 was a tough decision. I secretly hoped Brandon Roy would fall to this slot, and in a parallel of real life, Lillard take Roy's role on my team. I want to make sure I have an elite, dynamic playmaker, a guy with a sense of the moment, and there really aren't a lot of those players in Blazer history. On a team with Walton in the middle, I want strong shooters to spread the court, and that was a weakness for my other starting PG options. So on my draft board, I zeroed in on three players with this pick: Lillard, Buck Williams, and Arvydas Sabonis. Sabonis was out, because I already have Walton and couldn't burn the #9 pick on a backup. I decided that Buck was probably the best pick at #9. But Chris Lucia is on my mind here: He has the next two picks, and I was very worried he'd take Lillard if I didn't grab him. Chris could end up with an awesome back-court duo of Lillard and Drexler, with lots of great players available for his other pick. I'm betting he'll pick Rasheed Wallace over Buck sooner than he'd pick any other PG over Lillard.
But in the end, there's also a more personal reason at play. I REALLY want a member of the 2013-14 Blazers on this team, and I'm willing to overpay to get him. I feel the 12th pick would be very fair value for Lillard. So If Buck (my true pick for #9) falls to 12, then I felt I'll have pulled off a coup by grabbing both him AND Lillard. It;s a big risk, because I really want a Buck/Bill front line. But I'm playing the odds and my fellow GM's. So I have to sweat out the next two picks. I've already pieced together a backup plan, just in case Chris burns me and grabs Buck.
With the 10th pick of the All-Time Blazer draft, Team Chris selects Rasheed Wallace.
There are pros and cons when drafting first overall in a snake-format -- you obviously get the benefit of the first pick and the back-to-back picks later on can usually assure that you get at least one of your targeted players in that range. The downside, however, is that your opportunities to pick are more spaced out than anyone else's, thus making some picks appear to be reaches. I don't think anyone would have a problem with taking Wallace in the 15-20 range, but I figure he won't be around when my next two picks roll up, so I have to take action at #10.
With Clyde Drexler the centerpiece of my team and the clear alpha-dog on the roster, I feel it's conducive to surround him with as many legitimate secondary options as possible. Now, with LaMarcus Aldridge and Maurice Lucas already taken, I had Brian Grant, Buck Williams, Zach Randolph and Rasheed Wallace as the next best power forwards on my draft board in no particular order. I decided against Randolph because he played defense as if it were optional in his time with Portland. Williams and Grant were both good rebounders, decent scorers and played with a lot of heart, but I couldn't get past Wallace's versatility on both ends of the floor.
I remember, at the time, the criticism against 'Sheed -- besides the attitude issues -- was that he never consistently stepped into the role as a true No. 1 option that he clearly had the talent for. Putting him next to Drexler alleviates that problem, as the Glide would be the clear-cut leader of the team offensively. Just look at the success Wallace had with the Detroit Pistons after he was traded; With Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince handling much of the offensive load, Wallace was considered by many the "missing piece" that led Detroit to becoming the 2004 NBA Finals champs.
Taking into account his floor-spacing ability -- Wallace shot pretty well from the mid-range and hit a decent (for his position) 33.5 percent from deep with the Blazers -- I have visions of Drexler-to-'Sheed kick-outs that will stretch opposing defenses out and allow him to hit the jumper if they leave him open or give Drexler room to operate in the paint. Throw in Wallace's occasional brilliance as an interior scorer, his ability to play two frontcourt positions situationally and his work on the defensive end, and taking him at No. 10 doesn't seem like such a stretch. The attitude problems are always a concern, but I feel giving him fewer leadership obligations and sprinkling in veterans with solid locker room presences will alleviate the negatives enough to justify drafting Wallace here.
Here are the teams so far:
Team Chris: Clyde Drexler and Rasheed Wallace
Team Timmay: Bill Walton and Damian Lillard
Team Dane: Maurice Lucas and Scottie Pippen
Team Sam: Terry Porter and Geoff Petrie
Team Sagar: Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge
Round 3 will commence tomorrow morning. The GM's will be scrambling to fill out their starting lineups. Will anyone dare to go for talent alone and duplicate a position early? Should be interesting.
We do know this: if Chris ends up taking Buck Williams at #11, Timmay will kill him.
While waiting to see whether we end this process with a full staff or not, feel free to discuss how these guys did with their top picks. Any early favorites?
--Dave email@example.com / @DaveDeckard