SF: Wally Walker
There were only 17 teams in the NBA back in 1976, and the draft consisted of ten rounds. It was a different time, and there was a significantly higher bust rate among draft prospects. Still, the Blazers selected fifth as they had yet to break through and make the playoffs in their first six years as a franchise, and took Walker, a 6’7 forward out of the University of Virginia.
Portland was hoping that he would blossom into a star, but he lasted just over one season with the Blazers. The Trail Blazers won the NBA championship during Walker’s rookie season, but he averaged fewer than ten minutes per game in both the regular season and playoffs. Just a few games into his second season, Walker was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics for two draft picks.
Walker went on to play eight years in the NBA where he averaged 7.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in just 18.0 minutes per game. The 6’7 forward never blossomed into a star, but he did spend 12 years as the Sonics’ general manager and president after hanging up his sneakers.
The Blazers passed on future Hall of Famers Adrian Dantley and Robert Parrish to select Walker with the fifth overall pick in 1976. Dantley played the same position and was a six-time All-Star and two-time scoring champ during his 15 seasons in the NBA. Portland won the championship in 1976, so they likely have zero regrets about the selection.