NCAA March Madness is just around the corner. In homage to the great annual event we’re running a Portland Trail Blazers bracket here at Blazer’s Edge this month. The idea came from an article from Dia Miller and Dave Deckard, detailing the Blazers they’d most like to see one more time. The piece was fun and well-received, so we’re making a bracket of 16 candidates and letting you vote for your favorites during these January weekends. Eventually we’ll see which player you’d most like to bring back for one more go.
Here are the conventions:
- We’re not including Bill Walton and Clyde Drexler, since everyone should want them back for overwhelming talent and impact purposes. They count as, “Anytime, Anywhere” legends.
- You can vote in the comments or on Twitter @blazersedge. We won’t get as many votes that way as if we just opened a poll, but the discussion is important as well.
- You don’t necessarily have to consider the current roster or the state of the team as you make your choices, but you can. You’re voting for the player you’d most love to see suit up for one more season. The qualities/memories of that individual player are the most important things. Helping the current team is a bonus which can weigh in your decision, but doesn’t have to.
- Sadly, we’ve lost some of the players on this list. We remember them with honor and thank their families for sharing them with us through basketball so we could appreciate and remember them.
- Go ahead and envision the best Blazers version of each player. That’s part of the fun!
Our second matchup for this Saturday pits two very different, but ultra-productive-forwards.
Maurice Lucas was already an accomplished ABA player when he joined the Trail Blazers for the 1976-77 season. He would become an instant fan favorite, averaging 20.2 points and 11.4 rebounds that year, scoring more than teammate Bill Walton. Alongside Walton, he would lead the Blazers to the NBA Championship, intimidating opponents, referees, and anybody else who got in his way with a combination of strength, scoring, and sheer will.
As you can see, Lucas was strong, agile, and his face-up jumper was one of the most devastating weapons in the game during an era when power forwards stayed down low and kept their backs to the basket. He could shoot off the catch or dribble into it. It didn’t matter. If Luke shot it, it was probably money.
Speaking of money, though, enter the player the Trail Blazers traded three high rotation players and two draft picks for in 1984: Kiki Vandeweghe. Kiki was worth All-Stars Fat Lever and Calvin Natt because he could shoot from anywhere on the floor and pour in points like a waterfall. His very first season in Portland he shot 48.1% from the three-point arc while averaging a near-unheard-of 26.9 points per game. He’d register a second season above 20 before injuries and age took his production down.
Kiki wasn’t just a jump-shooter either. He had magician moves, translating a modest amount of athleticism into his symphony of production.
Though Vandeweghe’s tenure in Portland is often overlooked, watching him play in the modern era where his three-point shooting would be appreciated and fully utilized might be work a look. The Blazers might be able to use a small forward like him right now, making him a sweet pick for those weighing the team-boost factor.
So which will it be? If you had to choose between Maurice Lucas and Kiki Vandeweghe to play one more year, which would it be? Vote in the comments or on Twitter!