After three days of excitement and drama, we now enter the final two 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, Rounds 5 and 6 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 final results will be judged by you, the readers, tomorrow!
Here are the rosters so far:
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
Let's not stand on ceremony! The final rounds commence!
With the 31st pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Chris selects Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
When you get to the later rounds of the draft, the picks become way less clear-cut. I had Shareef Abdur-Rahim on my draft board because he was a great interior scorer for the Blazers, which can always be appreciated off the bench and allows another backup -- like Steve Smith, for example -- to operate on the perimeter, and vice versa with Abdur-Rahim in the paint.
I think a power-forward/center rotation of Rasheed Wallace, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Dale Davis has a lot of toughness and always allows for a very solid threat to be in the game at power forward. With Wallace playing some minutes at center, he'd share the frontcourt with Abur-Rahim, making for a very formidable inside-outside scoring duo with the two bigs.
With the 32nd pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Timmay selects Marcus Camby.
Thanks in part to his acrimonious exit, I don't expect a great reaction to this one. "Marcus Camby? Really?" I said at #9 that Damian Lillard was a hard pick. But that looks easy compared to this pick. I lost out on my first two backup centers, Kevin Duckworth and Mychal Thompson, in the previous rounds. So my Big Man decision came down to Kermit Washington or Marcus Camby (with some sentimental thoughts about Robin Lopez). I wasn't sure about Marcus until I looked at the numbers, and I realized he'd be a good fit. This is a guy who, in the later part of his career, helped the team survive the loss of Greg Oden. He'll be great off the bench.
Marcus was just outstanding during his Blazer run. He was a rebounding monster in Portland (including his career high for rebound %, and that's a long career), and a solid defender. He could play alongside either Bill or Buck, and or could play Center with Cliff Robinson moving to stretch PF in a small-ball lineup. I like that versatility. He'll hold down the middle, take care of the rebounds, and will contribute on offense as needed (which honestly should not be that much). He'll miss some games to injury each season but I'm not going to stress too much about that. There are limitations with every player available at this point, and his lower minutes should help durability a bit.
Camby will give the bench a slightly different feel from the starters, keeping opponents off balance. But I can't deny a nagging thought... there is one player who had fallen way further than I expected. If he's still there in round 8, I may have to change plans and grab him. But it's a long, winding path to reach pick #39. If more bigs are taken before then, my team would to look very thin up front. So I grabbed Camby now, just to be safe.
With the 33rd pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Dane selects Kenny Anderson.
Kenny is my sparkplug off the bench. During his one year in Portland he averaged 17 points and seven assists per-game and despite a strenuous tenure, his addition to this team from that year fits in nicely. He will be the guy who plays 25 minutes a night and knows he's the man. With championship hopes, I think Anderson was the right play.
With the 34th pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Sam selects...Joel Przybilla.
At this point, my job is really to round out the rest of my roster. While I have guys that can play physical (Kersey and Grant), I didn't have the true center that could do that. Joel Przybilla does. Though he isn't a threat at all on the offensive end, I don't need him to be -- not when Vandeweghe is out schooling these other Blazers Edgers' second units (thanks again for Kiki, guys). Marcus Camby was my ideal pick here, but Timmay snatched him up. But no worries -- the Thrilla' is fourth in team history in blocks (fifth in blocks per game), ninth in offensive rebounds, and recorded the highest shooting percentage as a Blazer (over 57%). I know he's doing the dirty work on defense by blocking shots and getting rebounds, but he's also getting second possessions and can making shots from the inside. He's a perfect match for the second unit.
With the 35th pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Sagar selects Andre Miller.
I have my starting five set, and now it's time to continue developing my bench. Andre Miller is just the type of player I'm looking for to play the backup point guard. He is a capable scorer when needed, but as I wrote about Strickland earlier, Miller is a facilitator, averaging over six assists per game. He is also an excellent presence in the locker room, something invaluable to a team.
With the 36th pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Sagar selects...Lloyd Neal.
As my roster stands, the small forward position is probably my weakest. Statistic-wise, Lloyd Neal is an above average BACKUP small forward: over 11 points and almost eight rebounds per game. Those numbers are better than those of Nicolas Batum (take that, Chris!). Neal rounds out the wing positions for my roster well.
(Somebody better tell the GM that Lloyd Neal played power forward and center. But hey, with Neal and Calvin Natt manning the position Team Sagar's small forwards can definitely beat up your small forwards.)
With the 37th pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Sam selects Danny Ainge.
My team is built around character and a team atmosphere. Guys like Bonzi Wells were still available, but I didn't want a guy like that tainting my team chemistry. So, I decided to go with the Oregon native, Danny Ainge. Really, this was more of a fit choice than anything. Though Ainge only played only two seasons as a Blazer, it was in the stretch run from 1990-92 -- so the guy has some playoff pedigree. Additionally, Ainge played 161 games as a Blazer but only started SIX with the team. Normally that'd be a red flag, but not when you're looking for a bench player. Ainge is a player that will understand his role as a off-ball player with Vandeweghe. For me, I knew that I needed to round out my picks with someone that could fit into what I had going. Ainge does that.
With the 38th pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Dane selects Bonzi Wells.
I loaded up on forwards early in the draft, so I figured I needed another scoring guard to even things out who at least brought some size to the table. Wells was never as prolific as fans in Portland hoped he would be, but he was at his peak when he played for the Blazers as a scorer, rebounder and three-point shooter. It was between Bonzi and a defensive-minded center at this position, but with us only drafting eight deep and the makeup and strategy of this team, Wells seemed a better fit.
With the 39th pick of the All-Time Blazer Great draft, Team Timmay selects...Lionel Hollins.
Wow.. I am shocked that Hollins was still on the board. This is purely a serendipity pick, since I had a completely different plan for this round. For the past few rounds, I'd penciled Bobby Gross in as my final pick, giving me a bench forward who could cover a lot of duties at both ends when needed. In fact, I had considered both Gross and Hollins in the final rounds, but I would have been short on bigs. I've been watching the picks come in... and nobody grabbed Hollins! I just can't let him sit on the board past my pick, so I'm changing my plan and taking him. He's an absolutely amazing value at #39, to the point that I'd make a case that he's the steal of the whole draft.
Lionel Hollins doesn't necessarily have the shiniest stats, but he was a key player in Blazers history. He made the All-Rookie team, an appearance in the 1978 All-Star Game, and was the starting PG on the 1977 Blazers NBA Championship squad. He likely couldn't nail a three-pointer if his life was on the line, but he more than made up for his weaknesses with leadership and defensive prowess. He was so good at it, he eventually became a valuable head coach. With Hollins on my bench, he can play the 1 with either Paxson or Lillard at the two (or Lillard at the two and Paxson at three), and can be assigned to the opponent's strongest guard. Clyde Drexler will not be thrilled to stare at Hollins at a key moment. And that's not even getting into the concept of Hollins and Billy Ray Bates taking on the opponent's bench. I can't let a player like Lionel slip away, so he's the last pick to complete my team.
With the 40th, and final, pick of the Blazer's Edge All-Time Trail Blazer Great draft, Team Chris selects...Greg Anthony.
I wanted another ball-handler with my final pick, and Greg Anthony was a solid scoring point guard as a Blazer who could handle things down the stretch reliably. He shot 39.1 percent from outside in Portland, and like Smith, brings a veteran presence and leadership to the floor.
And that's it! Your complete rosters:
PG--Jarrett Jack, Greg Anthony SG--Clyde Drexler, Steve Smith
SF--Nicolas Batum PF--Rasheed Wallace, Shareef Abdur-Rahim C--Dale Davis
PG--Damian Lillard SG--Jim Paxson, Billy Ray Bates, Lionel Hollins
SF--Cliff Robinson PF--Buck Williams C--Bill Walton, Marcus Camby
PG--Damon Stoudamire, Kenny Anderson SG--Wesley Matthews, Bonzi Wells
SF--Scottie Pippen PF--Maurice Lucas, Zach Randolph C--Mychal Thompson
PG--Terry Porter SG--Geoff Petrie, Danny Ainge
SF--Jerome Kersey, Kiki Vandeweghe PF--Brian Grant C--Arvydas Sabonis, Joel Przybilla
PG--Rod Strickland, Andre Miller SG--Brandon Roy
SF--Calvin Natt PF--Lamarcus Aldridge, Sidney Wicks C--Kevin Duckworth, Lloyd Neal
Notable Names Not Selected:
Tomorrow morning you'll see my analysis of all five teams, then your vote will determine which of these GM's has assembled the best All-Time Blazer Great Team ever!
Huge thanks to Sagar, Sam, Dane, Timmay, and Chris for taking the time to participate in the draft. It's been a great exercise!
--Dave firstname.lastname@example.org / @DaveDeckard