The Portland Trail Blazers appear headed for the draft lottery for the first time since 2013, but the franchise has a checkered history regarding top picks:
And while new dad CJ McCollum is scheduled to return to the lineup tonight after missing 18 games with a collapsed lung, Damian Lillard is out for at least the next six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery on his abdomen.
Injuries and the doublespeakesquely named NBA “health and safety protocols” have brought chaos to the Blazers’ lineup cards since a relatively stable start: head coach Chauncey Billups has used 15 different starting fives in the Blazers’ last 21 games.
Norman Powell may also return from his COVID vacation against the Orlando Magic tonight, but Cody Zeller and Larry Nance, Jr. remain out. And while Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic have stepped up their play in the absence of the Blazers’ two megastars, the Blazers seemed destined for the 2022 draft lottery.
It’s somewhat fortunate as it’s the only way they’ll keep this year’s pick; should Portland somehow miraculously claw their way into the playoffs, their first-rounder will go to Chicago as part of last year’s swap of the Juniors, Larry Nance and Derrick Jones.
Three wins in the past four games may have momentarily delayed the Blazers’ descent into Tankville, but any chance of making a significant playoff run disappeared with the first incision into Lillard’s gut last Thursday.
Recent lottery experience has been pleasant for the Blazers, as they snapped up McCollum 10th overall in 2013 and Lillard 6th the year before. But their stewardship of top picks hasn’t always been so responsible.
Let’s take a look at the five worst draft picks in Portland’s long and mostly proud history: