2. The Trail Blazers gave up too soon on Anthony Mason
Every player on this list played for the Portland Trail Blazers before the team decided to move on, for one reason or another. Anthony Mason will serve as the exception to the rule, and the Blazers decided to give up on him before he ever played a single game.
Portland drafted Mason in the third round of the 1988 NBA Draft, using the 53rd pick on him. If you are sensing a pattern here, you are correct; players taken late in the second round get a shorter leash than those with more draft pedigree. Even so, Portland took that shortened leash and chopped it up, cutting Mason before his rookie season could even begin.
Mason bounced around a few international teams before catching on with the New Jersey Nets in 1989-90. It was until his third season in the league that he got a full-season gig, scrapping his way into a legitimate rotation role with the New York Knicks. He stuck around New York and became a beloved member of their 1990s bully-ball teams.
Mason never became a superstar, but he carved out a role as a reliable two-way player who wasn’t afraid of anyone. The Knicks leaned on him for major minutes, including in 1995-96 when he led the league in minutes per game at 42.2. He would do the same the next year in Charlotte. In 2000-01 he had a strong season for the Miami Heat and made an All-Star Team. That’s the player that wasn’t even worth giving a roster spot to back at the start of his career.