In the piece by Jamal Shakespeare, which ranks 12 players and three honorable mentions, several former Portland Trail Blazers make the cut. That list of Blazers, six in total, includes fan-favorites who donned the red and black uniform in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.
Coming in at No. 1 in the countdown, is a player who’s time in Portland (2011-12) was short and one of nine stops during his 20-year NBA career: professional bucket-getter Jamal Crawford. As Shakespeare writes, Crawford’s handles were just as wicked as his shot.
One of the greatest ball-handlers of all time, Jamal Crawford was not just a walking bucket; he was a walking embarrassment.
He combined the herky-jerkyness with myriad crossovers and behind-the-back dribbles that honestly hadn’t really been seen before. He even dropped 51 in Dirk’s last home game at 39 years old!
Playing for nine different teams probably didn’t enhance his chances of being an All-Star, but he tallied just under 20,000 career points and was a three-time Sixth Man of the Year.
Being a true combo guard may have worked against him too, as some media and coaches were late to adopt the mindset of “positionless” basketball.
Further down the list, coming in at No. 4, is all-around NBA point guard Andre Miller, the definition of veteran savvy during his two seasons in Portland. At 33 and then 34, Miller played floor general for a Blazers squad that earned consecutive playoff berths in 2010 and 2011. He also popped off for maybe the most unexpected 50-point game in NBA history. Shakespeare writes Miller’s modesty and fundamental style may have factored into why he never received an All-Star nod.
Here is another guy whose only flaw was being born when he was.
Andre Miller, the consummate point guard, played like he was from the era before he was born. Always the set-up man, he led the NBA with 10.5 assists per game in 2001-02 while playing for the 29-win Cavaliers pre-LeBron James.
Miller is the only player in NBA history to have at least 16,000 career points, 8,000 assists and 1,500 steals without making an All-Star game.
The fact that he wasn’t the most spectacular player in the league was probably held against him. Miller made Kawhi Leonard look like Deion Sanders when it came to self-promotion, and for that reason, I am not even sure he cares that he is on this list.
Last in the rankings portion for the Blazers, show-stopping point guard Rod Strickland takes the No. 10 spot in the countdown. Strickland played five seasons in Portland (1992-96 and a separate, doomed stop in the 2000-01 season), averaging 16.2 points, 8.2 assists and 4.3 rebounds.
Kyrie Irving’s godfather is your favorite point guard’s favorite point guard. With his high dribble and incredible change of pace, Rod Strickland could get anywhere he wanted on the court. He was the quintessential New York maestro.
One of the craftiest point guards of his era, “Rocket Rod” was one of the best finishers regardless of size in the NBA.
In arguably his best season, Strickland produced 17.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 10.5 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.3 blocks per game in 1997-98, leading the NBA in dimes dropped.
Shakespeare’s Honorable Mention list is comprised entirely of players who spent at least parts of their careers with the Blazers: Arvydas Sabonis, Marcus Camby and Drazen Petrovic.
You can read the full piece here.