Over the course of history, drafting has been a huge issue for several franchises, something that, naturally, has translated into a very disappointing lack of success and silverware to brag about.
Small markets team definitely need to make the most of every single chance they get at a high draft pick, as they’re unlikely to draw any major free agent because those towns aren’t as flashy as LA, Boston or New York.
One franchise that has constantly struck out when it comes to drafting top-tier players is the Portland Trail Blazers, a team that seems doomed to settle for good, but not great players, or at least not the best in the league. Today, we’re going to let you know about how the Blazers passed on 6 top 25 players in the draft.
1972 NBA Draft
LaRue Martin (1st) - Julius Erving (12th)
Back in 1972, the Portland Trail Blazers were entitled of the 1st overall pick of the Draft, a pick they used to get LaRue Martin, a big man who averaged roughly over 5 points and 4 boards throughout his career and that is considered to be one of the biggest busts in NBA Draft history.
To make things even sadder, the Blazers could’ve easily landed the top prospect of that Draft, Julius Erving, who slipped all the way to the 12th spot. Throughout his career, Dr. J averaged 24.2/8.5/4.2, won 4 MVPs and 1 Championship.
1978 NBA Draft
Mychal Thompson (1st) - Larry Bird (6th)
Several years later, the Blazers were once again entitled of the 1st overall pick, so they decided to take Klay Thompson’s dad, Mychal Thompson. While Mychal was a very solid pick and thrived for 7 seasons with the Blazers before winning a couple of Championships with the Lakers, they could’ve done better.
If you don’t take our word for it, well, they could’ve actually gotten Larry Bird, the best three-point shooter in the league at the time, a two-way stud that led the Celtics to 3 NBA Championships and won 3 MVPs.
1984 NBA Draft
Sam Bowie (2nd) - Michael Jordan (3rd), Charles Barkley (5th), John Stockton (16th)
The 1984 NBA Draft has to be one of the worst nights in Blazers history, as they completely wasted their 2nd overall pick in Sam Bowie, a mediocre big man who put career averages of 10.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
While those numbers aren’t worthy of a 2nd overall pick, it all becomes worse when you notice that they could’ve landed John Stockton instead, the league’s all-time leader in dimes and the guy who led the league in assists in 9 straight seasons.
Let’s say for the sake of the argument that they were looking for a big man, well, then; they should’ve gone with Charles Barkley, who went 3 picks later, won 1 MVP, made it to 11 All-Stars and led the league in boards once.
But, what makes Bowie’s pick worse is the fact that they were so close of drafting Michael Jordan, a 6 time NBA Champion, 10-time scoring Champion, Defensive Player of the Year, 6 times Finals MVP, 5 times MVP and the greatest player ever, you may have heard of him.
2007 NBA Draft
Greg Oden (1st) - Kevin Durant (1st)
And Portland’s latest draft mistake is one that’s still coming back to bite them in the rear. They took Greg Oden with the 1st overall pick in 2007, as the big man looked like a dominant force that could be something of the likes of the second coming of Shaquille O’Neal, but, sadly; was never able to shake off several injuries up to the point where he was never able to establish himself as a player.
On the other hand, they could’ve gotten Kevin Durant, who was a Washington native, and that was clearly the most offensively gifted player of his class. Durant went on to win 2 Championships, 2 Finals MVPs, the Rookie of the Year and 4 Scoring titles. So close, Blazers. So close.