6. The Trail Blazers gave up too soon on Will Barton
A few years after taking Patty Mills in the second round, they took another small-school guard when they drafted Will Barton out of Memphis with the 40th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. The track record for 40th picks is a lot stronger than pick No. 55, with players such as George Gervin and Monta Ellis going 40th in their respective drafts. Unfortunately for Barton, he didn’t exactly come out of the gates like The Iceman.
Barton averaged 11 minutes per game in his 2.5 seasons to start his career in Portland, hitting just 39.1 percent of his field goals and 19.8 percent of his 3-pointers. It’s understandable why the Blazers decided to move on. Despite natural gifts and flashes of high-level skill, Barton never put it together in Portland.
Some of the blame has to be on Portland’s shoulders, however, because the second he was on another team he blew up into a solid rotation wing. Midway through his third season he was traded to the Denver Nuggets as part of a larger deal for Arron Afflalo and averaged double-digit points from the jump.
Things took off from there, as Barton became a key rotation player and eventual starter on the Nuggets as they became a perennial playoff team. He averaged at least 11 points per game in each of his seven-plus seasons in Denver. For a team that has struggled to find usable wings for the past decade, they had one that they gave up on too soon.