During the 2023 NBA All-Star Media Day, Damian Lillard said that he thinks he’s the best Portland Trail Blazer of all time – but that it’s up to the fans to decide if he is or not.
Let’s compare Dame to the other Blazers legends who are in the conversation to be crowned the greatest to ever play for Rip City.
There are many ways to look at who the best Blazer of all time is. The best way to make a case for the title is to take into account team records held, awards won, and playoff results.
When looking at these three categories, five players stick out. While there are numerous players who deserve to be recognized as one of the best Blazers of all time, the contenders for No. 1 are Lillard, Clyde Drexler, Bill Walton, Terry Porter, and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Top 5 Blazers of all-time
- Clyde “The Glide” Drexler: Drexler played for the Blazers from 1983 to 1995 and was a key member of the teams that made it to the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992. He was an eight-time All-Star while with the Blazers and had five All-NBA honors. He averaged 20.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game over the course of his Blazers career. Drexler owns the team records for games, minutes played, field goals, triple-doubles, steals, and win shares. Drexler’s scoring ability and versatility as a player make him one of the greatest Blazers of all time.
- Bill Walton: Walton played for the Blazers from 1974 to 1978 and was a crucial member of the team that won the NBA championship in 1977. He was a two-time All-Star and the NBA Finals MVP in 1977. He holds the team records for defensive rating, defensive rebounds, and blocks. While injuries limited his time with the Blazers, Walton’s impact on the team during his healthy seasons was undeniable.
- Terry Porter: Porter played for the Blazers from 1985 to 1995 and was a key member of the teams that made it to the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992. He was a two-time All-Star, and averaged 15.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game over the course of his Blazers career. He holds the team record for assists and is in the top three in many other categories. Porter’s leadership and clutch performances make him one of the greatest Blazers of all time.
- LaMarcus Aldridge: Aldridge played for the Blazers from 2006 to 2015 and was a six-time All-Star during his tenure with the team. He was known for his versatile scoring ability, rebounding, and shot-blocking, and averaged 19.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game with the Blazers. He holds the team record for rebounds and is in the top five for many other categories. Aldridge helped lead the Blazers to the playoffs five times, including two trips to the Western Conference semifinals. His consistency and longevity with the Blazers make him one of the greatest players in franchise history.
- Damian Lillard: Lillard has played for the Trail Blazers since 2012. He has been named an All-Star seven times and has earned All-NBA honors six times. He has averaged an impressive 25 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game during his Blazers career. He has helped lead the Blazers to the playoffs eight times. He holds the team record for points, 3-pointers, free throws, and is in the top three in many other categories. His tenacity, scoring ability, and leadership make him one of the greatest Blazers of all time.
While Walton, Porter, and Aldridge are all legendary players who deserve to round out the list of top five Blazers of all time, Lillard and Drexler rise above the rest as the top two.
Lillard vs. Drexler
Comparing Damian Lillard and Clyde Drexler as the best Trail Blazer of all time is a difficult task, as both players have made significant contributions to the franchise in different ways.
Drexler was a key player during the Blazers’ “golden age” in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He holds a number of important team records, but in more than 100 fewer games, Dame was able to surpass Drexler in career points and is just seven win shares behind him.
Lillard also has more accolades to his name. He’s been recognized for five NBA awards to Drexler’s two.
When comparing playoff statistics, here are some key ones to consider:
Lillard has played in 61 playoff games over the course of his career, averaging 25.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game. He has shot 41.2 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from 3-point range in the playoffs.
Drexler played in 145 playoff games over the course of his Blazers career, averaging 20.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game. He shot 45.3 percent from the field and 28.5 percent from 3-point range in the playoffs.
While Drexler played in many more playoff games than Lillard, it’s worth noting that Lillard has played in a higher-scoring era of the NBA and has faced stiffer competition in the Western Conference.
Additionally, Lillard has developed a reputation for making clutch shots in playoff games, while Drexler was known more for his all-around game and leadership.
Drexler also had stronger teams around him. He played with Porter, Jerome Kersey (who just missed the top-five cut), and two-time All-Star Kevin Duckworth throughout most of his Blazers career.
Outside of playing with Aldridge for the first three seasons of his career, the best players Lillard’s had to consistently help him is one-time All-Star CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic.
While Drexler’s contributions to the Blazers’ golden era cannot be overlooked, Lillard’s combination of talent, leadership, loyalty, records, and accolades make him the greatest Blazer of all time, even if just by a slim margin.
No one would be offended by the opinion of Drexler being the best Blazer of all time. The good news for Dame is he has many years of basketball still ahead of him.
There’s no telling how much more he can add to his Blazers’ legacy. At age 32, he’s playing some of the best basketball of his career and showing no signs of slowing down or leaving Portland.