Neil Olshey’s five best decisions as Portland Trail Blazers General Manager

Portland Trail Blazers - Neil Olshey
Portland Trail Blazers - Neil Olshey /
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Drafting Damian Lillard with sixth pick in the 2012 Draft

Outside of when Clyde Drexler was drafted back in the 1980s, Olshey selecting Damian Lillard was one of the most pivotal moments in franchise history.

That he was available at pick number six is still amazing when you think about it now. Guys like Thomas Robinson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went before him in colossal mistakes from those respective franchises.

Lillard, picked at number six, came in and made an impact right away, winning the rookie of the year. We all know about his accomplishments in his time in Portland, Dame is already the second best player to ever put on a Blazers jersey, and he has a pretty strong claim to being first.

Olshey forever altered this franchise when he selected Lillard. Not only is Lillard an All-NBA calibre player, he is a culture setter. He and McCollum form the backbone of this franchise not just because of their All-star play, but because they are great people and great leaders.

Dame hasn’t made a finals or won a championship, but he is committed and loyal to this city and team.

Dame personally played a massive role in the rise of Nurkic too. Jason Quick of The Athletic recently detailed how Dame helped Nurkic to be more of a professional with the examples he set on the court and on the locker-room. This is just one example of what a great team guy Lillard is.

So much of the success this team has is due to Dame, so in turn Olshey obviously deserves massive credit for making this pick.

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Olshey, overall does get some stick for not trading expiring contracts, or not taking more risks with trades. But he has kept this team relevant and managed to rebuild on the fly a couple of times when key people left.

The current version of the team he built hasn’t even been able to play healthy, and as a site we’ve predicted that when this happens, the moves of Collins and Nurkic especially will show up as master strokes.

Olshey has made the right moves when it’s counted, and fans can now look forward to a competitive team for the immediate future.