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Trail Blazers Top 100: The People’s Champ Earns Spot #93

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A look at the 100 players and personnel that have influenced the Trail Blazers’ 50-year history.

Portland Trail Blazers Media Day Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The Trail Blazers’ 50-year anniversary season is temporarily on pause as the NBA goes on hiatus to slow the spread of COVID-19. During that break, Blazer’s Edge is counting down the top 100 Blazers: players, executives, and other influencers who made the franchise what it is today.

No. 93 | Will Barton

Games Played with Blazers: 144 Regular Season | 7 Postseason

*PTS: 3.8| REB: 1.8 | FG%: 39.1 |

*Statistics are pulled from a player’s time in Portland

Joined Club: 2012 NBA Draft, 40th overall selection

Departed Club: February 2015, Traded with Victor Claver, Thomas Robinson, and a first-round pick for Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee

Place in History: Will Barton was a skinny, 6’5 wing when the Trail Blazers drafted him 40th overall out of Memphis in the 2012 NBA Draft. The selection came before the “3-and-D” movement had taken hold, which was a good thing, as Barton had neither the 3 nor the D. He did possess a few qualities in abundance: confidence, offensive imagination, and an effortless leap that could carry him into the rafters at a moment’s notice. This led to plenty of unorthodox shots, plus enough highlight-reel moments to last a lifetime. Somewhere in the middle, Barton declared himself “The People’s Champ”. Unless Dwayne Johnson joined the Blazers, his nickname was safe. Portland fans were all for it.

Barton’s overall contributions in Portland’s uniform were muted. He only registered three 20-point games in 144 appearances. He never averaged more than 4 PPG and his three-point shot barely eked above 30% in his best season. His prodigious talent only came to the fore after he was traded to the Denver Nuggets, where he’s now played a half-dozen seasons as a perpetual Sixth Man of the Year candidate. But nobody who saw him jump or thread an impossible pass could doubt that the potential was there. It’s a shame it had to blossom elsewhere.

Discuss your memories and dreams of Will Barton below, and check back multiple times every weekday as we continue to countdown to No. 1.