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. 67 | Johnny Davis
Games Played with Blazers: 161 Regular Season, 22 Postseason
*PTS: 9.4 | AST: 2.3 | FG%: 44.8
*Statistics are pulled from a player’s time in Portland
Joined Club: June 1976, Drafted 22nd overall in 1976 NBA Draft
Departed Club: June 1978, traded with a first-round draft pick to the Indiana Pacers for a first-round draft pick
Place in History: The NBA was much more “Wild West” back in the mid-70’s than it is now. Today, young players are scouted down to the shade of their cuticles. Back then it was more catch-as-catch can (read the story of how the Blazers drafted LaRue Martin first overall for an example). But even in 1976, a second-round rookie wasn’t supposed to play a key role in winning a World Championship. But Johnny Davis did just that.
Under Head Coach Jack Ramsay, the Blazers played a beautiful, team-oriented style. Athleticism was important, as well as endurance. Dr. Jack wasn’t a fan of the flash. The Blazers were supposed to get out on the break whenever they could, but if the easy bucket wasn’t apparent, the game was all about ball movement and vision.
Davis gave the Blazers all that and more. He could score. Even as a rookie his court vision was impeccable. He was a team player for sure. But he was fast. If the five players on the floor were supposed to be interchangeable, the other four were going to have to catch up to him.
Davis shook things up in his very first professional game, going 6-12 against the New York Knicks to score, excuse me, 19 points. The achievement wasn’t isolated. He’d post 20 against the Milwaukee Bucks on December 30th, then two games later go for 25 against the, excuse me, Los Angeles Lakers on January 2nd, 1977. But the best was yet to come.
With the Blazers looking for a series-clinching win in Game 6 of their second-round playoffs series against the Denver Nuggets, Davis earned the starting nod over Portland’s steady starter, Dave Twardzik. Davis busted out with a, excuse me, 10-14, 25-point effort, sending them to the Conference Finals against the dreaded Lakers. Davis would continue to start, He posted a pair of 20-point games in the sweep against L.A., then helped his team take it home in the title match versus the 76’ers.
Having a player come up clutch in multiple playoffs game is a huge bonus for any team. An unheralded rookie helping a team to an NBA Championship is absolutely remarkable, and good enough for the 67th spot on our Trail Blazers Top 100 list.
Discuss your thoughts and memories of Johnny Davis below, and check back every day as we continue the countdown to No. 1.