The Portland Trail Blazers have a long history of drafting future stars and helping them blossom in a Blazers uniform. From college goliaths like Bill Walton and Clyde Drexler, to unexpected heroes like Damian Lillard, the Blazers have seen a number of players reach their potential with the franchise. Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe hope to join that group.
That doesn’t mean they have a perfect track record, however. Over the course of many years as a franchise, they have had players in their building and moved on too soon, only to watch them blossom from afar for another team. Here are seven such players that the Blazers gave up on too soon.
7. The Trail Blazers gave up too soon on Patty Mills
In 2009 the Trail Blazers drafted Australian point guard Patty Mills with the 55th pick, historically a range where you are highly unlikely to find even a rotation player. Other than Mills, the best player drafted with pick No. 55 was…Chris Porter? E’Twaun Moore? The Blazers can be forgiven for not assuming Mills would become a key rotation piece on a title team.
They didn’t exactly give him much of a chance to, either. He played 38 total minutes as a rookie and only 12.2 minutes per game in his season season. He spent most of his time with Portland in Idaho, assigned to the Idaho Stampede of the G-League. He walked in free agency and signed with the San Antonio Spurs.
It was there that he built a long career, sharpening his long-ball and on-ball shot creation. He was in the rotation on the Spurs 2013-14 NBA Championship Team, and played 10 seasons for the Spurs before spending the last two in Brooklyn. He never became a star, but he was a valuable player for over a decade, and the Blazers could have plugged him into their rotation and seen the benefits.