The 1990s. Some call it the golden era of NBA basketball. In Rip City, the decade never saw a championship, but it both opened and closed with runs at Western Conference titles, giving Millennials, Gen Xers and fans across the board 10 years of high-level, bucket-busting Portland Trail Blazers memories.
With the 1990s era in mind, the idea here is as follows:
Oregon Sports News set out to draft and build three full rosters using a pool of players at their “Trail Blazers peaks” from the 1990s decade. That means anyone who played a single game for Portland from 1989-90 to 1998-99 is eligible. It also means that eligible players are at their subjective “best days with the Blazers” from that time frame, so skill sets, leadership, basketball IQ—it all applies, along with stamina, durability, and other factors from the period.
To further set the parameters, our general managers are building rosters as if they’re competing for a title and winning the odds in the 1990s. Up to the task of drafting these squads is OSN’s Casey Mabbott, Arran Gimba and Bryant Knox.
Through randomization, Mabbott received the No. 1 overall pick while Gimba nabbed No. 2 and Knox took No. 3. OSN used a snake-style draft and required each GM to select 10 active players, 1 injured reserve and a head coach along the way.
Like players, coaches must have been with the Blazers at some point during the ‘90s decade to be eligible. For both players and coaches, style matters! But filling a traditional point guard-through-center rotation was never required.
*This is Part 3 of a five-part Oregon Sports News series! Vote for your favorite 1990s team below, and check back next Monday, August 10 to see who makes the cut in our Pre-1990s edition.
Casey Mabbott’s Team
|1 (1)||Clyde Drexler|
|2 (6)||Buck Williams|
|3 (7)||Rod Strickland|
|4 (12)||Chris Dudley|
|5 (13)||Bonzi Wells|
|6 (18)||Otis Thorpe|
|7 (19)||Rick Adelman (Coach)|
|8 (24)||Harvey Grant|
|9 (25)||Robert Pack|
|10 (30)||Danny Young|
|11 (31)||Jermaine O’Neal|
|12 (36)||Tracy Murray (IR)|
- Rod Strickland
- Bonzi Wells
- Clyde Drexler
- Buck Williams
- Chris Dudley
Reserves: Otis Thorpe, Harvey Grant, Robert Pack, Danny Young, Jermaine O’Neal
Injured Reserve: Tracy Murray
Head Coach: Rick Adelman
Draft Strategy Going In: In this era, you need shooters. Big men are valuable in any era, but unlike the decades prior, in this period of NBA basketball you need to build a team of athletic shooters first and go for size up front later. For perhaps the only decade in NBA history, a guard ruled the league. You’re not worrying about matching up with any particular big man, you’re worrying about matching up with Michael Jordan. You need to score points, and you need to be able to run the floor. Draft the best guard available, and build out your roster from there.
How Strategy Changed/Why My Team Will Dominate: With the first pick, Clyde Drexler was an easy decision. While he spent most of his career at shooting guard, based on the team forgoing a traditional small forward, he’ll be throwing it back to his days with the Houston Cougars and spending a fair amount of time at forward in a scheme designed to share the ball and push the tempo.
Rod Strickland and Bonzi Wells will be joining him at guard, and while Bonzi can play the three, we may as well shift Clyde into that spot since he has more height and length. Buck Williams and Chris Dudley will be taking care of the gritty work in the post, getting pretty much all of the rebounds, but mostly staying out of the way of the scorers when on offense.
A lineup originally envisioned to include Cliff Robinson or Jerome Kersey, the talented GM pulling the strings here opted to go with Otis Thorpe, who like Robinson is a tremendous athlete and can play any frontcourt position and will have a lot of opportunities to showcase his outside shooting ability and space the floor as the first player off the bench. Harvey Grant will be a very good backup for Buck, Danny Young can play either guard position, and young players Robert Pack and Jermaine O’Neal round out the rotation – although neither may get many minutes in this star studded cast.
Head coach Rick Adelman will have a lot of options in this rotation, and will lead his team to multiple Finals showdowns with the Chicago Bulls, as they become the Lakers-Celtics of the 1990’s. This Blazers lineup will get their share of titles, gladly disrupting what was in another timeline known as the decade of the Bulls.
Arran Gimba’s Team
|1 (2)||Rasheed Wallace|
|2 (5)||Jerome Kersey|
|3 (8)||Terry Porter|
|4 (11)||Kevin Duckworth|
|5 (14)||Kenny Anderson|
|6 (17)||Danny Ainge|
|7 (20)||Wayne Cooper|
|8 (23)||Mike Dunleavy (Coach)|
|9 (26)||Walt Williams|
|10 (29)||Aaron McKie|
|11 (32)||Mark Bryant|
|12 (35)||Mario Elie (IR)|
- Terry Porter
- Danny Ainge
- Jerome Kersey
- Rasheed Wallace
- Kevin Duckworth
Reserves: Kenny Anderson, Wayne Cooper, Walt Williams, Aaron McKie, Mark Bryant
Injured Reserve: Mario Ellie
Head Coach: Mike Dunleavy
Draft Strategy Going In: Honestly, it all came down to who Casey picked with his first selection. If he selected anyone other than Clyde Drexler, then I was going to draft him and create a run-and-gun roster. But since he drafted The Glide, I decided to create a roster that was going to boss everyone around. Rasheed Wallace, Jerome Kersey, Kevin Duckworth … seriously, who on earth is going to want to go to the rim? And with Terry Porter and Jerome Kersey looking for steals, defensively, we are going to dominate the other two rosters. We may only score 80 a game, but the other team is going to score 70. Call us the Portland PIstons.
Why did I draft Rasheed Wallace with my first pick? Simple. He plays hard on both sides of the court. Offensively, he has a jump shot that no one can block. Defensively, he’ll guard the best player and protect the rim. He’s the best all-around player in the 90s.
How Strategy Changed/Why Your Team Will Dominate:
Defense, defense, defense. It’s that simple. But, you know, I also have to score points. UGH … I know! So annoying.
My starting five will be scoring from all over the place. Inside with Wallace, Kersey, Duckworth, outside with Porter, Danny Ainge, and Wallace (when he shoots those random 3s). Kenny Anderson is going to be a lethal 6th man, very Jamal Crawford-like. Wayne Cooper will help rest Rasheed Wallace or Kevin Duckworth by protecting the basket and blocking shots (because, looking at his stats, that’s all he did). And the rest of the roster will be draining 3s.
Mike Dunleavy may be an odd coach since he’s all about offense, but he’s better than PJ Carlesimo (Rick Adelman was drafted before I could get him).
Bryant Knox’s Team
|1 (3)||Arvydas Sabonis|
|2 (4)||Clifford Robinson|
|3 (9)||Damon Stoudamire|
|4 (10)||Isaiah Rider|
|5 15)||Brian Grant|
|6 (16)||Stacey Augmon|
|7 (21)||Gary Trent|
|8 (22)||Greg Anthony|
|9 (27)||Jim Jackson|
|10 (28)||Kelvin Cato|
|11 (33)||James Robinson|
|12 (34)||P.J. Carlesimo (Coach, .557)|
- Damon Stoudamire
- Isaiah Rider
- Clifford Robinson
- Brian Grant
- Arvydas Sabonis
Reserves: Stacey Augmon, Gary Trent, Greg Anthony, Jim Jackson, Kelvin Cato
Injured Reserve: James Robinson
Head Coach: P.J. Carlesimo
Draft Strategy Going In: I wanted to throw the group for a loop by taking my sixth man with my second pick. I felt comfortable Clifford Robinson would still be on the board, and with the talent pool looking top-heavy, I was overjoyed at the idea of being the only team in our little experiment to have an absolute star coming off the bench.
How Strategy Changed/Why Your Team Will Dominate: I won’t say I had buyer’s remorse taking Uncle Cliffy…but I’ll fully admit to instant FOMO leaving Terry Porter and Jerome Kersey on the board—especially because once we got past the first five selections, it was painfully clear we couldn’t afford to actually have Clifford Robinson come off our bench.
(And honestly, looking back at the full draft order, it’s possible (maybe even probable) that if I’d taken Terry Porter, Cliff Robinson would have still been available at pick No. 9.)
Hindsight, as they say, is Barbara Walters. I still feel
only okay really good about this team. The starting backcourt will blitz you on offer, as will Uncle Cliff at the right moments, and literally the rest of the roster will be even more blitz-y on defense.
The ‘90s have earned a reputation as a big-man era, but that’s partially code for basketball at its most physical. We have both the size and the physicality, and we’re going to beat you up every step of the way.
*Check out OSN’s previous Portland Trail Blazers Fantasy Drafts!