Portland Trail Blazers: 4 role players who became household names in the Playoffs

Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) /
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Portland Trail Blazers
Ruben Patterson, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Ruben Patterson. 2. player. Pick Analysis. 34. Scouting Report. G / F. 2002 NBA Playoffs

2002 NBA Playoffs – Per Game Stats:

  • 5.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.0 steals per game
  • 33.3 percent shooting, 75.0 percent from the free throw line (see defensive stats below).

If defense provides championships, one could make the case that offensive provides highlights in attention. In the early-2000s, those worlds often collided, when the Portland Trail Blazers figured to be next in line to usurp the defending-champion Los Angeles Lakers.

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For years, the Blazers had come painfully close, but failed to have an answer for the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

So you can imagine the level of comfort Blazers fans came into the 2002 NBA Playoffs with, knowing they had the proclaimed “Kobe Stopper” in tow, right?

Known as a rough-and-tumble, in-your-jersey defensive bulwark, Patterson had already circulated publicly for declaring that the Lakers — winners for the last two championships — weren’t “that good,” and that he preferred them in the Western Conference First Round.

Maybe you didn’t put much stock in Patterson’s ability to clamp it up on defense, but here’s how Bryant shot in the previous six meetings in Seattle and Portland prior to: 6-of-16, 8-of-25, 5-of-19, 11-of-26, 12-of-26, and 6-of-15. In total, that’s 37.8 percent shooting with 23.6 points per game. Efficiency isn’t everything, but it certainly made this must-watch.

The 2002 Playoffs represented a give-and-take. The Portland Trail Blazers were dispatched in a quick three-game sweep, but Patterson played a role in Bryant shooting 35.3 percent in the series.

Don’t mistake this for a Kobe Bryant alight. In my eyes, he’s somewhere between the third and eighth best player to ever play. The point here is that it officially made Patterson a player known beyond among non-hardcore discussion circles.

He made the majority of his $36.8 million dollar career earnings with that defensive work, and though he never advanced beyond the West Quarterfinals, played for some of the more memorable teams of this generation, and earned the respect of his peers along the way.