10 former Portland Trail Blazers that might surprise you

Mo Williams, Thomas Robinson, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Mo Williams, Thomas Robinson, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /
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Portland Trail Blazers
Nick Van Exel, Denver Nuggets (Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport) /

No. 6: Nick Van Exel (2004-05)

Statistics: 11.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game on 38.1 percent from the field

If you did a mid-2000s version of Inside the NBA’s “Who He Play For,Nick Van Exel would be one of those final round, boss level challenges. After spending the first nine years of his career as an All-Star caliber guard for the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets, the diminutive scoring machine spent the back half of his 30s adding to the jersey collection.

Because he still had the potential to light up the scoreboard, Van Exel became a trade chip. And in the summer of 2004, the Portland Trail Blazers — in their post-Rasheed era, took their bite — dealing Dale Davis and Dan Dickau to the Warriors for Van Exel.

In theory, the trade had its positives. After all, Van Exel was just two years removed from the postseason of his life in Dallas, where he was the No. 2 scorer on a 60-22 team that could have made the 2003 NBA Finals if Dirk Nowitzki’s knee had cooperated.

Instead, Van Exel was decent, but for a 27-55 team. The Willamette Week Newsletter shed some light on Van Exel’s time in Portland, calling it an era, even, and offered this commentary on the backcourt that was both short-lived, and short in stature:

"“Stuck between hefty contracts and a youth movement, coach Mo Cheeks was looking for something to excite fans and keep the team relevant. On Jan. 10, against Allen Iverson‘s 76ers, Cheeks started a new backcourt: the undersized duo of longtime Blazer Damon Stoudamire and the aging, just-signed Nick Van Exel. And for a short stretch, they shined, delivering no-look passes and impulsive, on-target 3-pointers from the no man’s land now called Dame Territory.”"

In the end, it proved to the final real season in Nick Van Exel’s career. Just like his 6-foot-1 frame, Nick the Quick’s 2004-05 year was easy to overlook. Upon a second look, though, it might surprise you how many buckets he put up.