Since the Portland Trail Blazers hold the 23rd pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, now's as good of a time as any to take a peek at Portland's similarly-positioned picks over the years. How have the Blazers done when drafting in this region?
For the sake of simplicity, the picks we highlight must meet the following criteria:
- The pick had to be between numbers 23 and 27
- The player had to have played for the Blazers at some point in their career
With that, let's take a look! Stats are from that players' tenure with the Blazers - not their whole career.
Travis Outlaw - 2003
9.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Oh, Trout! How we loved your impossible wingspan and tantalizing flashes of talent. Best known as part of the Brandon Roy
- Greg Oden
era, Outlaw was good friends with Roy and was reportedly one of the forces that brought Roy and Aldridge closer together after an initial coolness. He last played for the Kings
in 2014 before being traded to the Knicks
, then the 76ers
before being waived.
Sergei Monia - 2004
3.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg
I gotta be honest... I had never heard of this guy until just now, and I fancy myself a pretty big Blazers fan. If you knew him, you deserve major props. He played 26 games with the Blazers and just 3 with the Kings before calling it a(n NBA) career. He did play overseas with some success, including two Russian All-Star appearances and snagging the Russian All-Star MVP award in 2011.
Terry Porter - 1985
14.9 ppg, 7.0 apg, 3.5 rpg, 1.6 spg
When you think of "best case scenarios for a mid-20s pick," look no further than Porter if you're a Blazers fan. He set the Blazers' all-time 3-pint record, and held it until it was broken this year by Wesley Matthews. His number is one of 10 retired by the Blazers. He was on those early 90s Dairy Queen glasses. Yes, he's a Portland legend, While scouting, analysis, and analytics have changed in the last three decades, it's still nice to know snagging an All-Star in the 20's can happen.
Arvydas Sabonis - 1986
12.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.1 bpg
He's not your Vydas. He's not my Vydas. He's Arvydas, and the Blazers made consecutive 24th picks that would (likely) rival those made by any franchise, ever. While he didn't come to the U.S. until 10 years and countless injuries had passed, Sabonis was a transformational center that could shoot, pass, and take up space in a way the Blazers haven't seen since. Some say Portland would have won it all in the late 80s or early 90s with a younger, more athletic Sabonis on their squad, and looking at the footage
, it's hard to disagree.
Walt Gilmore - 1970
2.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Drafted during the Blazers' inaugural season, Gilmore only played 27 games in the NBA, all with the Blazers. There's not more more to say... sometimes your picks just don't pan out.
Charlie Yelverton - 1971
7.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg
Another player who only played a single NBA season. All of his 69 NBA games came with the Blazers, but he went on to have a solid overseas career (he played until he was nearly 40), and was part of a Euroleague Championship squad in 1975.
Bob Gross - 1975
9.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.2 spg
Bobby Gross is one of two players on this list to have played with the Blazers' 1977 Championship team. He would only play a total of 6 more playoff games in his career, but during the title run would ramp up his scoring, rebounding, assists, and steals. Also, according to Blazers legend Bill Walton
, Gross played the game "like it should be played," and exemplified the team-first attitude that would be a hallmark of Blazers basketball under Coach Jack Ramsay (an attitude shared by current Coach Terry Stotts). Like Porter, Gross' number has been retired by the Blazers.
Alaa Abdelnaby - 1990
5.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Full disclosure and possible conflict of interest: I still have Alaa Abdelnaby basketball cards in the section of my binders devoted to Blazers. My strongest memories of Abdelnady come from opening a fresh pack, thumbing through the players, being disappointed that there were no Michael Jordans ($$$), but getting faintly excited that, well, at least there was a Blazer in this one. He played a few years for Portland and bounced around a bit before heading overseas where he played until 1998. However, he did have the pleasure of playing a grand total of 6 minutes and scoring a single point in the NBA Finals
... unfortunately, it was in the Blazers' 33-point Game 1 blowout loss to the Bulls
Dave Twardzik - 1972
9.5 ppg, 3.4 apg, 1.4 spg
The other member of the Blazers' 1977 Title squad on this list, Twardzik's number (along with the number of every starter on that 1977 team) is retired. Interestingly, while drafted by the Blazers, Twardzik spent his first few years with the ABA's Virginia Squires before coming to Portland in 1976 in a bout of perfect timing. He spent a few more years in Portland before retiring, then worked with the Blazers' front office and as a coach. He went on to serve in the front offices of other NBA teams. He's now with the Old Dominion University broadcasting team, his Alma Mater.
Rolando Ferreira - 1988
0.8 ppg, 1.1 rpg
Ferreira owns the distinction of being the first Brazilian player in the NBA. He appeared in the fewest games (12) for the Blazers of anyone on this list. He did play for years with Brazil's national team, and was part of the 1987 Pan American Games championship squad.
Dave Johnson - 1992
3.7 ppg, 1.1 rpg
Not to be confused with Blazers impact player Steve Johnson, Dave's Portland impact was only felt for one season and 42 games. He spent the next season with the Bulls during Michael Jordan's first retirement, denying Johnson the chance to have contributed to a championship team. He spent some time in the CBA and overseas, last playing in Puerto Rico in 2001.
No player picked at 27 by the Blazers ever played for the team.
Staring at this list, it's easy to see the names we know and love (Gross, Twardzik, Porter, Sabonis) and ignore the ones that we don't... or, at least, that we've never heard of. With a mid-20s pick, there's a chance the Blazers could get lucky and draft an impact player. But finding the next Rolando Ferreira or Sergei Monia will be more likely than snagging another Terry Porter.