Blazers' lucky No. 7: PDX is in an ideal draft spot if recent history is indicative

The Portland Trail Blazers have the No. 7 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. The Blazers have had prior success at this spot, selecting Shaedon Sharpe in 2022.
Jan 3, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe (17)
Jan 3, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe (17) / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers were unlucky in the NBA Draft lottery, falling to pick No. 7 despite having the fourth-highest odds of obtaining the number one pick. They had a 16.4 percent chance of ending up with the No. 7 pick and could only fall as far as No. 8, which only had a 2.2 percent chance of happening. In other words, there was an 81.4 percent chance that they would land a better pick than No. 7. 

That’s some lousy lottery luck, but there are some reasons why this may be the best year to have this happen to the Blazers. Many analysts and scouts consider this a weak draft class.

There’s no consensus on who the top five prospects are. Portland is in a position to select someone on the same tier of prospect as the third or fourth pick, for instance. That’s the logical reason for coming to terms with the Blazers' bad lottery luck. But is it good fortune that Portland fell to lucky draft pick No. 7? That could be the case if the past decade of No. 7 NBA draft picks is any indication.

The success rate of No. 7 NBA Draft picks in the past decade

Looking at the past decade of No. 7 draft picks, the Blazers have reason to be optimistic. 

  • 2023: Bilal Coulibaly, Washington Wizards
  • 2022: Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trail Blazers
  • 2021: Jonathan Kuminga, Golden State Warriors
  • 2020: Killian Hayes, Detroit Pistons
  • 2019: Coby White, Chicago Bulls
  • 2018: Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago Bulls
  • 2017: Lauri Markkanen, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • 2016: Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
  • 2015: Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets
  • 2014: Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers

Two of those ten players may not have lived up to expectations, but the rest are at least starting-level NBA players who should all have very long and productive careers—an 80 percent success rate.

There are only two on the list with All-Star appearances. Randle is a three-time All-Star (2021, 2023, and 2024), and Markkanen has one on his resume from 2023. It also seems only a matter of time until Murray makes one. Some of the most recent picks, Coulibaly, Kuminga, and White, have yet to reach their prime, but each has shown enough promise that it wouldn’t be surprising if at least one amongst the group is an All-Star.

Not to mention the Blazers' home run of a pick in 2022, Sharpe, who has already shown flashes but had his sophomore season cut short after undergoing surgery for a core muscle injury in February. A significant third-year breakout could be in store for the high-flyer.

A few are also already NBA champions in their young careers. Murray won last year with the Nuggets and has a legitimate chance to repeat in the current playoffs. Despite only being 21 years old, Kuminga also has a ring, as the Warriors won the Finals over the Boston Celtics in his rookie season.

There are so many talented players on this list, not including Stephen Curry, who was selected No. 7 by the Golden State Warriors in the 2009 NBA Draft. The Minnesota Timberwolves infamously took two point guards—Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn—with back-to-back picks right before the Warriors, missing out on the greatest shooter ever.

Sure, it’s not the most effective way of looking at the draft—obviously, the Blazers would still prefer landing a higher pick, especially since teams like the Pistons and Hornets are drafting at No. 5 and No. 6 and have similar holes to fill in their rosters. However, the No. 7 draft selections and their recent success in the NBA is undoubtedly an exciting trend. Let’s hope Portland can keep the streak going in this year’s draft.