The Trail Blazers whiffed on their first-ever first overall pick.
In their inaugural draft in 1971, the Blazers took Sidney Wicks with the second overall pick. The following season, they were given the blessing of the first overall pick in a draft that yielded three Hall of Famers and, to quote Phillip Tandy Miller, totally pooched it.
At least Wicks went on to carry the team through its bleakest years until the arrival of Bill Walton; 1972 first overall pick LaRue Martin went on to start exactly zero games in a four-year career with the Blazers.
He became redundant with Walton’s arrival and was traded to Seattle after the 1975 season, but was cut by the Sonics before he could play a game for them. And while Martin’s 5.3 points per game average is the fourth-lowest among all the NBA’s first overall picks, this pick is made even worse by the talent that was bypassed.
Bob McAdoo went to Buffalo with the second pick and went on to average 22.1 points and 9.4 rebounds in a 14-year career. Paul Westphal went tenth to Boston and made five straight all-star teams with Phoenix and Seattle. I couldn’t even find a picture of Walker to use in this article.
The third Hall of Famer in that draft was none other than Julius Erving, but he was returned to the Virginia Squires of the ABA after being chosen by the Milwaukee Bucks. The Squires sold his contract to the New York Nets the following year, and he eventually found a home in Philadelphia.
Meanwhile Martin has gone on to earn the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award and the Black Heritage Award, among other civic honors, and has made a positive mark on many lives.
The next two picks, however, are legendary failures.