Who’s the greatest Blazers lottery pick ever? Ranking them all from 9 to 1

Damian Lillard (left), CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Damian Lillard (left), CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

The 2023 NBA Draft Lottery will go a long way toward giving the Portland Trail Blazers a clearer picture of their offseason. If Brandon Roy’s lottery luck strikes again, Rip City fans could be closing their eyes at night and dreaming of Victor Wembanyama-Damian Lillard pick-and-rolls. If it doesn’t, there will be no Wembanyama – and maybe no Lillard – in Portland. It all depends on this Blazers lottery pick.

The franchise has had nine other lottery selections, the highest being No. 1 in 2007 when the Trail Blazers took Greg Oden over Kevin Durant. They’ve had two other top-four selections, have picked at No. 10 or lower four times, and had pick No. 7 last year, where they grabbed Shaedon Sharpe.

How many times has Portland hit on those lottery selections? How many times has it whiffed? Was Oden the low point, or was there an even more devastating scenario?

Every Portland Trail Blazers lottery pick ranked from worst to first

9. Greg Oden, 2007

It’s unfortunate in a number of respects that Oden is last on this list. Before the 2007 draft, there was real debate between Oden and Durant for the No. 1 pick; he was that dominant at Ohio State. He averaged nearly 16 points and 10 rebounds during his lone season in Columbus and established himself as a defensive force, posting 3.3 blocks per game.

Unfortunately, the 7-foot, 270-pound big man could never stay on an NBA floor. Oden missed his rookie season with a knee injury before playing decently well the next two seasons – 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.4 blocks in 82 games – before injuring his knee again and missing the next three years.

He made a comeback attempt with the Miami Heat in 2013-14 but lasted only 23 games.

8. Brandon Rush, 2008

Rush was picked 13th overall the year after Oden but never played for Portland. He was dealt to the Indiana Pacers, along with Jarrett Jack and Josh McRoberts, in exchange for Jerryd Bayless and Ike Diogu.

The 6-6 guard from Kansas played nine NBA seasons and finished his career with averages of 6.8 points and 2.9 rebounds, and he might have been the most valuable player in the trade other than Jack, who went with him to Indiana.

Bayless played two seasons with the Blazers, starting 11 games. He averaged 6.8 points and 2.0 assists in 15 minutes a night, while Diogu was re-routed to Sacramento and never played for Portland.

Keeping Jack, McRoberts, and Rush – even though he never panned out as hoped – would have been a better call.

7. Sebastian Telfair, 2004

Telfair was one of the most hyped high school prospects of the 2000s. He was the second-ranked point guard and No. 6 player overall in the class of 2004. He was part of the early YouTube hype video collections and, as the younger cousin of Stephon Marbury, only gained more fame.

Instead of going to college, the 6-foot, 170-pound guard declared for the draft, where the Blazers chose him with the 13th selection. His skills as a ballhandler and scorer couldn’t make up for his lack of size and strength at the NBA level, though, and Telfair never became anything more than a reserve guard.

He only played two seasons in Portland before making eight other stops in a nine-year NBA journey.

6. Meyers Leonard, 2012

Leonard was the second of two lottery picks for the Trail Blazers in 2012. The 7-footer out of the University of Illinois had the tools to become a fantastic offensive center – size, strength, shooting, athleticism, post skills – but it never came to fruition.

Leonard could never break through a big man rotation that featured, at one time or another, LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez, Chris Kaman, and Joel Freeland.

He did play for the franchise for seven seasons, though, playing at least 60 games in four of those years, including 74 in 2016-17. His best statistical campaign in Portland was 2015-16, when he averaged 8.4 points and 5.1 rebounds in 21.9 minutes. He shot 37.7 percent from three on nearly 4 attempts that year.

5. Martell Webster, 2005

Webster was drafted with the sixth overall pick, but only after Portland had traded back three spots from their original selection and missed out on guards Deron Williams and Chris Paul.

Like Telfair, Webster was a highly-touted high-school recruit. He was the No. 3 player in the 2005 class as an incredibly athletic, 6-7 wing with upside on both ends of the floor. Webster became a solid NBA player, but never lived up to that billing.

He was a reliable role player for the Blazers, however, playing all 82 games twice and only playing fewer than 60 once, the exception being the ’08-09 season, which he missed with a broken foot.

Webster averaged nearly 11 points and 5 rebounds while starting a career-high 70 games in ’07-08. During his five seasons in Portland, he started 164 games and averaged 8.5 points and 3.1 rebounds in 23.2 minutes.

4. Shaedon Sharpe, 2022

Sharpe was about as raw as they come when the Trail Blazers drafted him seventh overall last summer. He saw limited action for most of the season, but exploded during Portland’s last 10 games.

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 9.9 points, 1.2 assists, and 3.0 rebounds on 47/36/71 shooting splits for the season, but those numbers jumped to 23.7 points, 4.2 assists, and 5.8 rebounds over the final 10 contests.

He flashed the athleticism, explosion, shot-creating, and shot-making that points toward a primary scoring option and future all-star. Whether that’s with Portland may be determined in the next few months.

3 . CJ McCollum, 2013

McCollum was small, productive scoring guard from tiny Lehigh University who entered the NBA on the back of a strong NCAA Tournament run that included a win over Duke, in which he scored 30 points as his Mountain Hawks became just the second 15 seed to ever beat a 2 seed.

Portland took him with the 10th overall pick, and after playing a limited role his first two years, came into his own in his third. He started 80 games that year and averaged 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists.

He then started every game he played for the Blazers until he was traded in 2021 and has never dipped below that 20.8 ppg average. As Lillard’s backcourt mate, he helped carry Portland to the postseason seven consecutive times, including to the Western Conference Finals in ’18-19.

McCollum averaged 24.7 ppg during that playoff run and shot 39.3 percent from deep on more than 7 attempts per game.

2. Tyrus Thomas, 2006

Thomas is the second-greatest lottery pick in Blazers history because he helped bring Aldridge to Portland.

On draft night, the Blazers dealt Thomas and the rights to Viktor Khryapa to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Aldridge and a 2007 second-round pick, and the rest is franchise history.

Aldridge is one of the best players to ever don a Blazers jersey. He played nine seasons in Portland, making four All-Star teams and three All-NBA teams. He played 648 games with the franchise, starting 607. He averaged more than 19 points, 8 rebounds, and a block in his Blazers career.

His best statistical season came in 2014-15, his last in Portland, when he averaged 23.4 points and 10.2 rebounds on 47 percent shooting. He made the Western Conference All-Star team that year and was named to the All-NBA Second Team.

1. Damian Lillard, 2012

Who else? Lillard was the No. 6 pick in 2012 from Weber State and has started every game since arriving in Portland. He’s arguably the greatest player in franchise history.

Dame started all 82 games as a rookie and scored 19 points a night while also averaging 6.5 assists. Things have only gotten better from there.

Last year, at age 32, Lillard posted the best offensive campaign of his career. He averaged 32.2 points to go along with 7.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds. He finished the season third in the NBA in scoring.

He’s greatest offensive player in franchise history.

Next. 10 NBA Lottery sims, 10 Blazers draft choices. dark

Hopefully, Dame is able to continue racking up stats in Portland while making another push toward a title. The lottery results will play a significant role in whether or not that’s possible.