After a day of excitement and drama yesterday, it's time to commence with the 3rd and 4th rounds of our All-Time Greatest Trail Blazer Draft.
For those not familiar with the process, you can see the explanation, as well as full coverage of Rounds 1 and 2 right here. In a nutshell, five Blazer's Edge authors are competing to build the best 8-man roster drawing from a draft pool of every player who's ever put on a Trail Blazer uniform for at least one regular season game. The draft is snake format. The results will be judged by you, the readers, when the week is over.
Here are the results from the first two rounds, including draft positions:
Team Chris: #1 Clyde Drexler and #10 Rasheed Wallace
Team Timmay: #2 Bill Walton and #9 Damian Lillard
Team Dane: #3 Maurice Lucas and #8 Scottie Pippen
Team Sam: #4 Terry Porter and #7 Geoff Petrie
Team Sagar: #5 Brandon Roy and #6 LaMarcus Aldridge
Chris is now on the clock for the 11th pick. We'll be back with that in just a minute and keep going as the next 10 picks unfold! Who will fill out the starting lineups? What positions will go dry first? Will Timmay let Chris live if Chris snags Buck Williams before Tim can take him at #12? The drama unfolds...
With the 11th pick of the All-Time Blazer draft, Team Chris selects...Nicolas Batum.
GM Chris speaks:
This is where things get a lot more tricky for me. When you only have two starters, three spots to fill and are within the top dozen picks, it's often wise to take the best available player at positions of need. At this juncture I need a point guard, small forward and a center.
I knew I could slide Wallace over to center occasionally, so taking one this early wouldn't be necessary because I could probably still pick up a decent starting center with a later pick. I can't bring myself to take any of the best available point guards listed with the talent still around at the small forward position, so it came down to either Batum, Robinson or Kersey.
I love Uncle Cliffy and Kersey as much as the next guy, but I again went with versatility. All three were solid rebounders for their positions, but I think the best overall guy is Batum. Kersey's inability to shoot from outside would be an issue because Drexler also wasn't a good three-point shooter, and I wanted at least someone on the wings to be able to help space the floor. Down to either Robinson or Batum, I went with the Frenchman because he can guard three (sometimes four) positions capably and can stick three-point kick-outs and catch-and-shoots well. Batum has also developed into a very heady playmaker when setting up other guys, and with talents like Drexler and Wallace on the floor, his passing capabilities could be maximized.
Team Timmay is on the clock for Pick 12, and you can cut the suspense with a knife. A very dull, plastic knife like you get at the grocery store deli.
And right on cue, in the fastest turn-around in draft history...
With the 12th selection of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Timmay selects Charles Linwood "Buck" Williams.
Buck Williams was a player I wanted on my team from the beginning, and I'm thrilled that he fell to #12. In many ways, he's the key to my team. He brings one of the rarest qualities in the NBA: Sacrifice.
I already have Damian Lillard and Bill Walton, and will draft starting wings soon. There already won't be enough shots to go around. When Buck came to Portland, he morphed his game into what the team needed. A former All-Star and team leader, he sacrificed his personal stats to be the ultimate glue guy, the person who brought the team together, and could elevate his game if called upon. Need hard-nosed defense? Need garbage points? Need rebounds? How about a high shooting percentage? Buck is your guy. Need a guy who can make the big steal one-on-one with Tom Chambers to seal a Western Conference Championship? Put Buck on him.
Also, in terms of my draft board, I've got players I like at both the SG and SF positions that I'm reasonably confident would still be around in 10 picks. There was no way Buck freakin' Williams was staying on the board much longer, and there's IMO a precipitous drop-off at PF after him.
With the 13th pick of the All-Time Blazer draft, Team Dane selects Damon Stoudamire.
I went with Damon here because he is the best true PG left on the board who has star power. Say what you will about his off the court issues but he was a star in Portland who was part of a championship contending team. With Pippen already on the squad it's also safe to assume some natural chemistry.
With the 14th pick of the All-Time Blazer draft, Team Sam selects...Jerome Kersey.
The overall draft strategy has me thinking how guards (especially point guards) were at a premium -- I've already scored the top option in Porter, plus arguably the next best guard on the board in Petrie, so I really think Jerome Kersey is a good choice to get my first forward. With Kersey as my third pick, the plan is now obvious: my team's going to be scrappy and play a real team-style of basketball. And, while Porter and Petrie are the main ball handlers, Kersey becomes both an offensive rebounding/second chance points threat (second in team history in offensive rebounds), and a guy that could get a defensive rebound and become another horse in the fast break (second in team history in defensive rebounds). Plus, we need a guy who can get to the line, and "Mercy, Mercy" would get us there. The guy is in the franchise's Top 10 of just about every major statistical category, so nabbing him at #14 is a great spot.
With the 15th pick of the All-Time Blazer draft, Team Sagar selects Sidney Wicks.
Drafting last in the rotation is not a very good thing. Do I get two consecutive picks? Sure, but there are way too many picks in the middle, putting me in a tough spot. I recognize I need another big to pair alongside LaMarcus Aldridge, and Sidney Wicks fits the bill. Statistically, Wicks fills up the stat sheet, averaging just over 22 points and a shade over 10 rebounds per game. He can come off the bench as a back-up to Aldridge or play next to LA if the situation demands. I believe Wicks is a great fit for my roster.
With the 16th pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Sagar selects...Rod Strickland.
At this point, I have no point guard. With Brandon Roy, Aldridge, and Wicks already on the roster, I need a facilitator more than I do a scorer. Rod Strickland fits that bill: he can score when needed, averaging 17 points per game, but he is also an excellent passing guard, averaging almost nine assists per game. We drafted him for just that. He won't be needed to score, but that's a nice luxury to have in case the need arises.
With the 17th pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Sam selects Arvydas Sabonis.
I knew that when I made the choice to go with a two-guard lineup (Porter/Petrie), and also that I had drafted the ultimate effort player (Kersey), the direction of my team was simple: it's a group that plays team basketball. Period. They share the ball, sacrifice for each other and play as a cohesive unit. That's where Sabonis comes in -- there are very few centers in NBA history, let alone Trail Blazers history, that could share the ball like Sabas. Seeing him run pick-and-rolls with Petrie, dishing the ball backdoor to Kersey and commanding attention to free up space for Porter's three-point shot makes Sabonis a perfect addition. Obviously there's some worry that this team is pretty small thus far, but remember... we still have three rounds to go.
With the 18th pick of the All-Time Blazer draft, Team Dane selects...Zach Randolph.
Zach was a peculiar choice here in that I named him as my least favorite Blazer of all time a while back in our BE round table. But he fell to me at 18. Randolph was a huge scorer and rebounder during his time in Portland, and the assumption here is that Maurice Lucas would straighten out a young ZBo by any means necessary if they were on the same team. Had to draft for value even if that meant loading up on forwards and possibly playing Randolph at center at times.
With the 19th pick of the All-Time Blazer draft, Team Timmay selects Cliff Robinson.
Cliff Robinson is a toss-up pick. I wanted Pippen as my starting SF, but he was long gone. At this point my board has a lot of guys at similar quality, to the point it's almost overwhelming to make a decision. In the end, Robinson won out over a couple of similar-quality SF's. Cliff is a safety valve for my team: He could easily start at SF (which he did for most of us time in Portland after the championship window closed), but he could also move to PF for small-ball purposes. He had athleticism, an outside shot, and surprising defense. He could start, or he could come off the bench. This is especially important, because I'm eyeing two SF's who are defensive specialists and will probably be around later in the draft. I may choose to start that player instead. and keep Cliff as sixth man. Not that Cliff's defense in his prime was anything to sneeze at. Cliff's talent, longevity and versatility made him a very good value at #19.
Plus, there's also a personal element at play here: "Uncle Cliffy" was my favorite player of that era, and I was happy to pick him. I'm also targeting my favorite player of a different era at #22, and am hoping Chris Lucia doesn't grab him. I think it's unlikely, since he already has Drexler, and the player I'm targeting is a SG to finish my starting lineup.
With the 20th pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Chris selects Jarrett Jack.
I need to fill out my starting lineup with a solid point guard with this pick. I thought a lot about maybe pairing Andre Miller in the backcourt with Drexler, but that rotation would shoot disastrously from outside. Plus, I figured he'd fall far enough for me to pick in a later round. Rod Strickland and Damon Stoudamire were off the board, so it came down to Jarrett Jack or Jamal Crawford.
Crawford only played one season in Portland, and it was one of his worst statistically. Plus, he needs the ball in his hands a lot to operate at his best, and that really wouldn't jive well with him starting across from Drexler. Jack was not a great outside shooter with the Blazers (33.2 percent in three seasons) but that average was pulled down severely by his rookie season in which he hit just 26.3 percent from deep. In his second and third seasons, he improved to an alright 35 percent as a sophomore and 34.2 percent on three-pointers in his third year, so I rolled the dice a bit on that, hoping that he'd only need to pop open, catch-and-shoot threes with Drexler, Wallace and Batum shooting more often than him.
Jack was a decent passer in Portland, so I figured he'd set up his talented teammates fairly well, and he didn't turn the ball over often. I like his toughness and think it'd pair well with Drexler. Plus, maybe some of that aggressiveness will rub off on a guy like Batum.
And that's the 3rd and 4th rounds! Here are the teams as they stand so far:
Team Chris: Clyde Drexler, Rasheed Wallace, Nicolas Batum, and Jarrett Jack
Team Timmay: Bill Walton, Damian Lillard, Buck Willliams, and Cliff Robinson
Team Dane: Maurice Lucas, Scottie Pippen, Damon Stoudamire, and Zach Randolph
Team Sam: Terry Porter, Geoff Petrie, Jerome Kersey, and Arvydas Sabonis
Team Sagar: Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Sidney Wicks, and Rod Strickland
Plenty of talented Trail Blazers remain on the board. Tomorrow the GM's will be finishing their starting lineup and thinking about building a bench. As you're waiting and speculating, who won Day 2 of the draft and how do you see these teams matching up?
--Dave firstname.lastname@example.org / @DaveDeckard