When you’ve been around for as long as the Portland Trail Blazers have, you’re bound to have hit on a few draft picks. Here are their 15 best picks to date.
The Portland Trail Blazers have a sneaky long history in the NBA. Yes, they are tucked up away in the Pacific Northwest and were overshadowed by their former rival in the Seattle SuperSonics for years. However since the SuperSonics’ highly controversial move to the Sooner State to become the Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland has been the lone NBA team in that part of the country for over a decade.
Historically, Portland is considered to be a good, but not great basketball franchise. Though the Trail Blazers have six division titles and three Western Conference Championships, their only NBA Championship came in 1977 on the back of Bill Walton. That being said, many outstanding players have played on the Rose City hardwood in the history of the NBA. Many of these players were hand selected by the Trail Blazers in NBA Drafts.
Portland has certainly crushed a few of its draft picks, but has whiffed on a few others. This franchise has also had a not-so kind history when it comes to career-altering injuries. Guys like Walton, Sam Bowie, Brandon Roy and Greg Oden certainly fit that bill. That being said, the Trail Blazers have taken a few hall of famers and a handful of All-Stars with their draft picks.
Without further ado, here are the 15 greatest draft picks made by the Trail Blazers in franchise history. Before we begin, do keep in mind that Roy was not originally selected by the Trail Blazers. He was a Minnesota Timberwolves pick before briefly starring in the league for Portland before his knees completely deteriorated. For the sake of Rip City, let’s rip through this all-time list.
Like most expansion teams, it took a while for the Trail Blazers to get going on the hardwood. To think that they won the NBA Finals in their first-ever playoff berth is somewhat crazy. Just who did they think they were, setting the tone for the Florida Marlins and the Vegas Golden Knights to do something spectacular? Well, it helps if your team drafts well to ensure a shot at a title.
The Trail Blazers made one of their better early draft selections by taking small forward Bob Gross No. 25 overall out of Long Beach State in the 1975 NBA Draft. Though never an All-Star, Gross would play seven of his eight NBA seasons for the Trail Blazers. As a second-year player, Gross played in all 82 regular season games, averaging 11.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists for the eventual championship team in Portland.
Gross would back that up with what was his best season as a professional in year three. As a third-year pro out of Long Beach State in 1977-78, Gross was named to the All-Defensive second team, averaging 1.4 steals and 0.7 blocks per game. He also averaged 12.7 rebounds, 5.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists that season. However, that would be the last time that Gross averaged double figures in scoring during his NBA career.
Gross played with the Trail Blazers through the 1981-82 NBA season. He would sign with the then San Diego Clippers ahead of the 1982-83 NBA season before retiring at the age of 29. Gross averaged 9.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists during his seven years in Portland. In 2008, Gross had his No. 30 jersey retired by the Portland franchise.