Portland Trail Blazers: Ranking Neil Olshey’s best and worst moves as GM

Neil Olshey and Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports)
Neil Olshey and Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /

#3 Best move – Mason Plumlee to the Denver Nuggets for Jusuf Nurkic and a first-round pick

As explained above, when Plumlee was brought in as the Blazers starting center, he provided excellent production and a nice passing and rebounding presence for the team.

Plumless wasn’t a great fit with Lillard and McCollum because he didn’t have a massive defensive presence. But Olshey knew he could find an upgrade on both ends, so he dangled Plumlee in a deal with the Denver Nuggets.

Olshey had a feeling that the under-utilized Nurkic could be a starting big for the Blazers, and because of Plumlee’s strong play through the first four years of his career, they were able to get a first-round pick as well as bringing back Nurkic.

Though he’s had injury issues recently, Nurkic has still had some massive moments in a Blazers jersey, and is about to hit the playoffs in great form.

Olshey sending Plumlee out and getting back a first-round pick and Nurkic, is the best trade he has made in his time in charge of the Blazers.

Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

#2 Best move – Drafting CJ McCollum

Olshey made two master-strokes in the NBA Draft, neither of which cost him top-five picks.

Drafting CJ McCollum in 2013 was without a doubt one of the best moves that Olshey has made. A four-year guy out of a small program at Lehigh, McCollum was a top-five talent, but no one knew that at the time of the draft. The Blazers had the 10th pick in the draft, so they selected shooting guard McCollum.

Though he had injury issues at college and early in his career, he showed just how great he was at scoring the ball when he got significant playing time.

McCollum went from six points a game in his first two seasons, to 20.8 points a game in his third season. This was good enough to get him the most improved player award in 2015/16.

McCollum has consistently been the Blazers second best player and one of the league’s best shooters. This was an excellent selection with the 10th pick.

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

#1 Best move – Drafting Damian Lillard

The best move of Olshey’s tenure running the Blazers, was the franchise-altering decision to select Damian Lillard with the sixth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Lillard, like McCollum, was a four-year player at college, this time at small program Weber State. Lillard was a two-time Big Sky Conference player of the year and a legitimate scorer already.

Also, like McCollum, Lillard was selected because of his work ethic and attitude. Much of the Blazers consistency and success has been built on a team culture with strong values around work ethic and discipline.

Lillard was clearly a guy who knew what it took to be great early on. In his first NBA season, he averaged 19 points and 6.5 assists as he took out the rookie of the year award.

He made the NBA playoffs in just his second year in the league, and made a massive statement with a famous walk-off three-pointer to win the series against the Houston Rockets.

Lillard hasn’t looked back since then, making six All-Star games and five All-NBA teams.

He is one of, if not the greatest Blazer of all time. Olshey made the best move in 2012, and probably changed his and Stotts career forever with this pick.

Next. The Portland Trail Blazers are readying themselves for the NBA Playoffs. dark