After two days of excitement and drama, we now enter the 5th and 6th 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, Rounds 3 and 4 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 four rounds, including draft positions:
Team Chris: #1 Clyde Drexler, #10 Rasheed Wallace, #11 Nicolas Batum, #20 Jarrett Jack
Team Timmay: #2 Bill Walton, #9 Damian Lillard, #12 Buck Williams, #19 Cliff Robinson
Team Dane: #3 Maurice Lucas, #8 Scottie Pippen, #13 Damon Stoudamire, #18 Zach Randolph
Team Sam: #4 Terry Porter,#7 Geoff Petrie, #14 Jerome Kersey, #17 Arvydas Sabonis
Team Sagar: #5 Brandon Roy, #6 LaMarcus Aldridge, #15 Sidney Wicks, #16 Rod Strickland
Chris is now on the clock for the 21st pick. We'll be back with that in just a minute and keep going as the next 10 picks unfold! What starters will be dusted off and inserted into these high-powered lineups? How will benches and depth come into play? Do GM's draft on talent alone or go for need? Will Timmay get any small players and will Sam bother with any bigs? The drama unfolds...
--Dave firstname.lastname@example.org / @DaveDeckard
With the 21st pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Chris selects Dale Davis.
Dale Davis is a difficult pick to make. Sabonis slipped all the way to No. 17, and for a second, I thought I might get the steal of the draft by taking him at 20 or 21. Unfortunately for me, Sam snuck in there and took him much later than most fans thought he'd go.
I could've taken Kevin Duckworth, Robin Lopez, Joel Przybilla, Theo Ratliff or Mychal Thompson here -- all of whom would've been pretty justifiable -- but I'm on a bit of a "toughness" kick, if you will, after taking Jack with the prior selection.
I also have to put rebounds at a premium -- even though Batum and Drexler are great rebounders for their positions -- because Rasheed Wallace would probably tend to drift out toward the perimeter. Przybilla was the best rebounder of the bunch, but his injury history and complete lack of offense scared me off. Duckworth and Thompson were underwhelming rebounders for their size, and while Lopez improves those around him on the boards, I really wanted a good individual rebounder. Ratliff was an insane shot-blocker in Portland, averaging 2.6 swats per game, but he was pretty one-dimensional otherwise. Davis was capable of pulling down boards on both sides of the ball as well as anybody, could handle one-on-one defense against most centers and was a solid rim-protector, thus making sense to take him at No. 21 to round out my starting lineup with plenty of hard-nosed players.
With the 22nd pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Timmay selects...Jim Paxson.
I am so freakin' ecstatic. I was able to grab Jim Paxson at #22. Awesome, he's a total steal. From the moment Dave said the words "All-Time Blazer Draft", I thought "I wonder if I can steal Paxson in a later round"... and here he is. I've long felt he's the "forgotten Blazer", a legend lost in the shuffle, because his prime was post-Walton, pre-Drexler with minimal TV coverage. Jim played in two All-Star Games alongside fellow SG's Alex English and George Gervin. He helped lead the Blazers to two second-round appearances in three years (1983 and 1985). Jason Quick rated him the 10th Greatest Blazer a few years ago. Before Drexler's arrival, he owned the town. Unfortunately, there is very little footage online to see him in action, but he's a keeper. As a Blazer, he's 6th all time in points, 6th in assists, and 4th in steals.
Paxson played in the second half of the Dr. Jack era, when the three-point line was there, but was still somewhat foreign, so it wasn't heavily practiced or used. Which makes his three-point numbers look terrible with minimal attempts. During that era, he instead focused on the mid-range jumper. He also peaked at under 90% for free throws for one season. He could handle the ball when necessary, but could move away from the ball to get into shooting position. In the modern game, while Lillard and Walton drew the defense, he would drive the opponent nuts with off-ball cuts around screens to nail jumpers or sneak toward the rim. And on the defensive side, he may not have been lock-down, but he was pesky, as shown by his high ranking in career steals.
I considered multiple options for the last starting spot in Portland, but Jim was my original plan, and he's a perfect fit. Every player in the starting lineup is well defined, and they all have an established role at each end of the court. I'm extremely happy with my starting lineup.
With the 23rd pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Dane selects Wesley Matthews.
Matthews is an obvious choice. He fills a need my team had at shooting guard since I had none, covers up some of the defensive inequities of Damon Stoudamire, provides a three-point threat off the Mouse's dribble and locks down any wing player in tandem with Scottie Pippen. He's the three-and-D player I needed.
With the 24th pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Sam selects...Brian Grant.
In a team game, you need team players. That's what I'm building. Power forward was a position I've really neglected up to this point (the only player in the starting unit I didn't have), so I want an enforcer. That's Brian Grant for me. While he wasn't the flashiest player, Grant was a guy that could muscle you down low, fight for rebounds and play solid defense. Though he's slightly undersized at 6-9, I think it really fits well with what I'm trying to build -- his versatility was a great addition. If Team Sam wants to go really small, Grant can play the five, but if we want to go big or need to shift guys around, he can play the three. Just a nice fit in terms of positioning, but more importantly his sacrifice for the team. My starting five will fight for each other!
With the 25th pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Sagar selects Kevin Duckworth.
At this point of the draft, I badly need a center and Kevin Duckworth fits the bill for prototype big men. During his time in Portland, he was statistically excellent, averaging almost 14 points and just over six rebounds per game. While not a defensive specialist, he is also certainly capable of holding the paint down. He fits in great for my roster.
With the 26th pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Sagar selects Calvin Natt.
I've got no small forward, so it's time to go get one. Calvin Natt, like Duckworth, puts up great numbers: just over 17 points and almost nine rebounds per game, numbers comparable to, if not better than Nicolas Batum. He is short at the small forward, standing 6'6", but on a team with two starting-caliber power forwards, Natt gives us the ability to play small if we need to. He's a solid pick up for my team.
With the 27th pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Sam selects...Kiki Vandeweghe.
Here's the situation... My starting five is set. I don't necessarily have the one "go-to" guy, though it's likely Petrie that fills that role. And for some reason, Kiki Vandeweghe is in complete Brady Quinn free-fall mode. Like, to the point where even I can't believe it. So, with the starters fixed, I nab the best player available. Kiki, the Sixth Man. Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
Quite frankly, I got a sixth starter. On the floor, I got a guy that can shoot the lights out: 23.5 ppg as a Blazer, shooting 53% from the field and 40% from three. He's instant offense and can close games. It's really the perfect situation for me, especially when up to this point when again I didn't have the one player I could tell "go get us a bucket." It's an absolute steal, and I'm thrilled to have Vandeweghe on Team Sam.
With the 28th pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Dane selects...Mychal Thompson.
Look, I'm the guy who named my old blog after Arvydas Sabonis. I get it, but I also knew I would get Thompson for value since I figured Sabas would go high and Walton was unattainable.
For his career with the Blazers (seven seasons) Thompson scored more points, played in more games, played more minutes and had more points, assists, rebounds and blocks per-game than my beloved Lithuanian did in the same time. This team is built to have a modern pick-and-roll game, multiple ball handlers and defend the wing at the point of attack. Thompson fit the bill when it came to value at center, so I sat on him and snapped him up late.
With the 29th pick of the All-Time Blazer great draft, Team Timmay selects Billy...Ray...Bates.
My plan with this pick was to take Mychal Thompson to back up my bigs. Until the previous pick. Dang it, Dane, you're killin' me. Time for plan B.
Now that I have an outstanding, stable starting lineup, I can take some chances on the bench. I had planned to take Billy in the 7th round, but I think he's a good fit for my bench, so I'm grabbing him now instead.
Billy took the NBA by storm when he arrived in Portland. He was a natural athlete, and played by instinct. He could drive, dunk and even dish. He was a revelation, and revived a city that was moribund after the collapse of the 1977 NBA Champions. Of course, "instinct" is a double-edged sword: He was amazing, but struggled with the organized team concept a bit. He also had a much bigger problem, in that he was absolutely unprepared for the NBA experience. He had never heard of a checkbook or a banking account. He wasn't exactly a light drinker. And he found a lot of fame, very quickly, with all the problems that can bring. His era with the Blazers is covered in the outstanding book Breaks of the Game, and his later experiences are covered in an very fascinating write-up at Deadspin. On top of all that, the Blazers rode him heavily on the court. Add it up, and he shone very bright, but for a very brief time. But during that time, he was as electric as any player who ever put on a Blazers jersey.
Billy's role on my team is to be insta-hot super-sub for smaller minutes per game. I want him to use his instincts. I want him to be unpredictable. I want him to be unafraid to have a bad game, because if he's having a bad night, other players are available. And if he's amazing, the starters can get a little more rest. There's always the risk he would flame out again. But I'd have to hope that he would have a much better chance around such a stable core, and any modern team would have a significantly better support to help him adjust to the NBA. Considering my starters, and the likelihood of a stronger support system, I like taking a risk on a guy like Billy.
And he'd be so fun to watch.
With the 30th pick of the All-Time Blazer great draft, Team Chris selects Steve Smith.
I'm not sure why Steve Smith lasted until No. 30, but sometimes teams' individual needs allow a guy like him to slip through the cracks. Maybe he was seen as a bit one-dimensional as a three-point shooter, or a bit past his prime in Portland.
I was glad to add Smith to my team here, either way. He's a great outside shooting threat off the bench who was also a decent passer and rebounder for a shooting guard. He keeps the offense going from the backcourt as an underrated scorer when Drexler's on the bench.
I also like the veteran leadership and locker room presence he brings to the table. There were plenty of backcourt scorers still on the board at this point of the draft, but all had more skill-set limitations and/or character issues than Smith.
That's the end of Rounds 5 and 6. With only one day remaining in the draft, teams have now formed enough to get a decent look by position. Keep in mind rotations may shift when the final players are added.
PG--Jarrett Jack SG--Clyde Drexler, Steve Smith
SF--Nicolas Batum PF--Rasheed Wallace C--Dale Davis
PG--Damian Lillard SG--Jim Paxson, Billy Ray Bates
SF--Cliff Robinson PF--Buck Williams C--Bill Walton
PG--Damon Stoudamire SG--Wesley Matthews
SF--Scottie Pippen PF--Maurice Lucas, Zach Randolph C--Mychal Thompson
PG--Terry Porter SG--Geoff Petrie
SF--Jerome Kersey, Kiki Vandeweghe PF--Brian Grant C--Arvydas Sabonis
PG--Rod Strickland SG--Brandon Roy
SF--Calvin Natt PF--Lamarcus Aldridge, Sidney Wicks C--Kevin Duckworth
Each team will add 2 more players, tell you which coach they'd prefer to lead their squad, I'll have some analysis, and then comes the great showdown where you determine who built the greatest Blazer team of all time.
In the meantime, who made the best moves today and which direction are the various teams heading? Weigh in below!