Portland Trail Blazers: The Top 10 Players in Blazers History
Compiling a list like this can always be somewhat subjective, and trying to address a topic of this nature always needs to be done with a short list of reasons why certain players were chosen over others.
That's the point though, to get a good discussion going as to who's on the list that shouldn't be, who got left off unfairly and which players were over or under-rated.
So, the criteria:
1. No players from the current roster will be included. This decision has to be made because some who could potentially make the list either haven't been around long enough, haven't been healthy enough or haven't played at a high level consistently enough (such as Greg Oden or LaMarcus Aldridge).
Brandon Roy is also a special case in that one could argue he deserves a spot already after his quality play over the past few seasons, but his recent injuries and the uncertainty surrounding his role going forward make it difficult to include him at this point. That being said, I definitely expect him to crack the top 10 by the time his career is over.
2. The player had to play a minimum of ___ quality seasons with Portland.
One other thing: I tried to calculate all the given stats based on the years each player played with Portland and not over their careers as a whole (with those stats coming from basketballreference.com), so keep that in mind.
That's basically it. From there, it's just a look at who had the best stats, the most success with individual awards, the best overall impact on team success, and of course, things like playoff success will factor in as well.
Feel free to agree or disagree and leave comments. Enjoy!
10. Arvydas Sabonis
Sabonis is a classic case of a what-if scenario that has plagued Blazers fans ever since the franchise came to be. He is known as one of the best all-time players ever to come out of Europe and a Hall of Famer based on what he did there.
While in Portland, his impact was less since he was already over 30 and suffering from lingering injuries by the time he arrived. Even so, I remember watching him play while the Blazers battled the Lakers in the early part of the previous decade and remain impressed with the way he played Shaquille O'Neal so well.
Sabonis only had averages of 12 ppg and 7.3 rpg while playing with the team, but his impact was felt throughout each game, and he was well liked by fans.
His overall excellence and the success the team achieved earns him a spot on this list.
9. Jim Paxson
Jim Paxson is an underrated All-Star guard who played for Portland during much of the 1980's. Over the duration of his stay with the team he averaged 14.9 ppg and 3.1 apg, while twice averaging more than 20 ppg in a season.
He is one of the best scorers to ever play on the team, but it appears that his game was a bit one dimensional, which is why he doesn't rank higher on the list.
8. Cliff Robinson
Cliff Robinson was another important contributor on the Blazer teams that went to the NBA Finals in the early part of the 1990s.
He averaged 16.2 ppg and 5.2 rpg while playing in Portland over eight seasons. Robinson was also selected to one All-Star team while playing there.
His statistical impact increased over time, and at one point, he had three straight seasons with averages of over 20 ppg.
However, his rebounding numbers seem low for that of a power forward, and his best individual seasons didn't coincide with the best overall seasons for the team.
7. Geoff Petrie
Geoff Petrie was a really important player in the early Blazer years and was with the team from 1970, which was their first year in existence.
He was co-Rookie of the Year that season. He averaged almost 25 ppg in his first NBA season, which, although in a different era, is something that is basically unheard of today.
Over the duration of his six-year career with the Blazers, Petrie averaged 21.8 ppg and 4.6 apg.
Sadly, he didn't get to experience the thrill of the Blazers championship season firsthand, as he was traded the previous offseason.
6. Sidney Wicks
Of all the names on this list, Sidney Wicks is one that is probably not well known with most casual Blazer fans. But even though his time with the team was short, his impact shouldn't be underestimated.
Wicks spent five seasons with the team, during which he put up averages of 22.3 ppg, 10.2 rpg and 4.1 apg. He also won the Rookie of the Year award in the 1971-72 season and was a four-time All-Star while with the team.
I would have put Wicks higher on this list, simply because of how good a player he was, but two things stand out: first, his individual efforts, as impressive as they were, didn't really translate into team success. In fact, the Blazers won the NBA championship in the season following his departure from the team.
Second, it's kind of a strange case with him, but he never really improved during his time as a pro. In fact, he only lasted 10 seasons in the league, and surprisingly, it doesn't seem like it was due to injuries (as is the case with so many other past Blazer greats.
So I'm not really sure what happened.
5. Terry Porter
Terry Porter gets the nod here because of the duration of his stay with the team, the overall success of the team while he was in Portland and for his statistical place among the all-time Blazer greats.
As with Buck Williams, Porter was a member of the Blazers teams that went to the NBA Finals in the early 90s. He is the all-time team leader in assists, and during his tenure in Portland, he averaged 14.6 ppg and 6.8 apg, with his personal best season average of 10.1 apg coming during the 1987-88 season.
Porter was also a strong player defensively, racking up over 100 steals in seven consecutive seasons with the team.
4. Maurice Lucas
I almost forgot to put Lucas on this list, but looking at this picture reminds me of just how big a mistake that would have been.
Doesn't he just look like a tough guy you really don't want to mess with? Sure, maybe that was 30 years ago. But still...
Maurice Lucas was another key member of the Blazers championship team, averaging 20.2 ppg and 11.4 rpg during the regular season of that memorable run. He is also remembered as a tough player and very physical defender.
He would be higher on this list, but he only played essentially four-and-a-half seasons with the team, though he did also make three All-Star teams.
3. Buck Williams
Buck Williams was a player who, while he could score the basketball, was known primarily for his tough play, defensive prowess and knack for putting up big numbers as a rebounder.
In his prime he was one of the best rebounders in NBA history, ranking in the top 15 all time.
Williams was traded to the Blazers right in the middle of his career and immediately made important contributions on both ends of the floor for a team which reached the NBA Finals twice within the next three years.
Even though he was nearing the end of his prime by the time he reached the team, he still nearly averaged a double-double over his seven seasons in Portland (10.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and became a key player on some of the best Blazer teams since their only championship run.
2. Bill Walton
Bill Walton was almost everything you could ask for in a franchise center.
He put up big numbers on championship team (18.6 ppg, 14.4 rpg, over three blocks per game), which was only his third year and was playing just as well or better the following season.
As most Blazer fans know, the potential ensuing run of three or four consecutive championships was not to be, as Walton's feet could not hold up, and he ended up being traded away the following season.
Walton is, by far, the most decorated player in team history, including being the only Blazer to win the MVP award. He was the key piece on a team which brought Portland its only NBA championship, which is why I put him this high even though he only spend four seasons with the team.
1. Clyde Drexler
This one was probably the easiest choice on the whole list.
Clyde played 12 seasons with the Blazers, averaging 20.9 ppg, 7 rpg and 5.8 apg during his career in Portland. He also averaged over two steals per game in five consecutive seasons.
In terms of accomplishments, he was once elected to the All-NBA first team, was an eight-time All-Star and is now a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Drexler was an electrifying player to watch and a real leader—both on and off the court.
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