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Blazers Top 100: An Underappreciated Center

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

Trail Blazers v Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via 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. 57 | Dale Davis

Games Played with Blazers: 218 Regular Season, 18 Postseason

*PTS: 7.1 | AST: 7.2 | FG%: 50.8

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

Joined Club: August 2000, acquired from the Indiana Pacers for Joe Kleine and Jermaine O’Neal.

Departed Club: July 2004, traded with Dan Dickau to the Golden State Warriors for Nick Van Exel

Place in History: For the most part, our Trail Blazers Top 100 list deals exclusively with a player’s time in Portland. A couple players have gotten a boost from who they used to be before, or who they would become after. Nick Van Exel and Jermaine O’Neal have already graced our list on that basis. The players coming in at numbers 57 and 56 will do so as well.

The name Dale Davis carries a couple immediate negative connotations for Portland fans. Most infamously, he was the player the Blazers received in the deal that shipped Jermaine O’Neal out of town, a player that soon blossomed into a multi-time All-Star for the Pacers. Davis didn’t. Adding insult to injury, Davis was brought on as part of a scheme to counter Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal, who had ushered Portland out of the Western Conference Finals in a tragic Game 7 collapse the season prior. Davis didn’t have the size to bother Shaq on defense nor the range to pull him out of the paint on offense. The scheme just wasn’t going to work.

Those obvious pitfalls shouldn’t obscure the fact that Dale Davis was a good player. He was not just an athlete, but a technician. He was quick for his 6’11 size. He got into the right defensive position on most every play. He wasn’t a huge shot-blocker; he was more like caution tape. You probably shouldn’t go in there. It’s not guaranteed that something bad will happen if you do, but you’re going to have to worry.

Davis played with teams whose defensive options were rapidly diminishing around him. Arvydas Sabonis was on his last legs. Steve Smith was never a defensive-minded guard. He and Stacey Augmon were about to be replaced by Derek Anderson, to be paired with Damon Stoudamire in the backcourt. Rasheed Wallace was always solid, but Shawn Kemp was little help. Increasingly, Davis became the defensive pillar of the club. For four seasons, he toiled away, rebounding and moving his feet even when teammates didn’t, or couldn’t. He shot 54% from the field in 2002-03 and averaged 51% during his Portland tenure.

While he didn’t quite live up to his All-Star billing (he had been named to the 2000 NBA All-Star team in Indiana), Davis provided a steady hub for a crumbling roster while aging through his late-prime years. With respect for his great play in Indiana, his persistence in Portland, and often getting overlooked for both, Dale Davis earns the 57th spot on our list of Top 100 Trail Blazers players and influencers.

Share your memories of DD below and stick with us as we continue the countdown to #1!