The Portland Trail Blazers are in danger of missing the playoffs for the second straight year and having another lottery pick to add to their roster. Last year’s seventh overall pick, Shaedon Sharpe, has shown promise, but there are zero guarantees he becomes a star. Portland needs more talent around Damian Lillard, and grabbing a difference-maker in the draft could be what gets Portland back to the playoffs in 2024.
The Blazers’ track record has been better in recent years, but historically they have struggled mightily to find talent. Portland signed ESPN’s Mike Schmitz as their assistant general manager because of his draft knowledge as the Blazers look to get an edge in that area.
Credit to the Trail Blazers for drafting Damian Lillard, Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, CJ McCollum, and others. When Portland has hit, it has usually been massive, but there are plenty of busts too. Here is a look at their all-time draft bust starting five.
PG: Sebastian Telfair
The Blazers had just missed the playoffs for the first time since 1982 when they drafted Telfair 13th overall in 2004. Portland was heading into a rebuild and searching for talent. Telfair was an extremely hyped prospect that went directly from high school to the NBA. He was most compared to his cousin Stephon Marbury, who was a two-time All-Star and perennial 20-point per-game scorer.
Telfair never lived up to the hype. He spent two years in Portland as primarily the backup point guard where he shot under 40 percent from the field and averaged just 8.1 points and 3.5 assists per game. The six-footer was traded to Boston in 2006 with Theo Ratliff and a second-round pick for Raef LaFrentz, Randy Foye, and Dan Dickau.
Telfair played a decade in the NBA for eight different teams, mostly as a reserve guard. He averaged just 7.4 points and 3.5 assists in 21.5 minutes per game.
Portland passed on drafting Jameer Nelson, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, Tony Allen, and Kevin Martin to select Telfair. The teenage point guard had the most potential, and the Blazers took a shot on the star talent, but it never panned out.