Portland Trail Blazers: Five non-Jordan, non-Durant stars the Blazers missed on drafting

Larry Bird, Boston Celtics (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Larry Bird, Boston Celtics (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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Portland Trail Blazers
Adrian Dantley /

No. 5: Adrian Dantley, University of Notre Dame

Year: 1976

Original Selection: Wally Walker, University of Virginia

Growing up as a kid, when we lost things, we were likely taught to think back and retrace our steps. For me, that was nonsense. “I’m done looking for it,” I reasoned. “If it’s that important, it’ll find me.” 

In many ways, Portland’s 1977 NBA title feels the same. No one finds out about just how badly the Blazers whiffed on the 1976 Draft before still stumbling into a title on purpose. Why would we want to? Why rain on the parade – the only championship parade – we’ve ever had? But, it’s the reality.

With their No. 5 selection in 1976, the Blazers selected Wally Walker. A really cool name, right? And maybe it wouldn’t have been so much of an issue if the likes of Adrian Dantley, Lonnie Shelton, Alex English or Dennis Johnson weren’t on the board.

Walker never became an All-Star, or anything close. But he stayed out of the way and did enough to contribute to two NBA titles in his eight-year career. So, there’s that. But if the Blazers had played their cards right, here’s how they could’ve shuffled their deck to make title runs in the future more probable:

In the Book of Basketball, Bill Simmons makes note of this. Atlanta traded the No. 2 pick and Geoff Petrie to the Blazers for Maurice Lucas, while still having the No. 5 pick.

You don’t have to be a history buff to understand how incredible this starting lineup would have been: Bill Walton and Moses Malone in the frontcourt, Dantley at the 2 or 3, and Lionel Hollins running the point, and Lucas sliding in where he fits in to form one of the greatest teams of the decade.

In total, Dantley would become a disrespected, yet successful Hall of Famer. Walker would go on to become the second-best Wally to ever play (you thought the great Wally Szczerbiak wouldn’t appear in this article, and you were wrong). And then, a other names worth bringing up.

Honorable Mentions:

Next. A whistle-for-whistle look at the "fixed" Game 7 in 2000 vs. the Lakers. dark

It’s easy to say this in hindsight, sure. But hey, we don’t have many Hall of Famers. We don’t have but a single championship. At least let us have our hindsight takes.