The 2010s were a special time for the Portland Trail Blazers. Not “Larry O’Brien visits Pioneer Square” special, but between Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, the team was never without a franchise face, and tucked behind the stars you could always find a contributor becoming a forever fan-favorite.
With our love of 2010s Rip City 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 most recent decade. That means anyone who played a single game for Portland from 2009-10 to 2019-20 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 (more on them in a second) are not building franchises for multi-year runs. They are not competing for an NBA title or anticipating the grind of an 82-game season. What they are doing is drafting for the greatest hypothetical pickup game between prime-2010s Blazers ever played, ever.
The goal here is simply to win games against your opponents. Think of it as an Alumni tournament, except instead of everyone limping in during their 40s and 50s, we’re getting them in their “decade primes.”
Up to the task of drafting these squads is OSN’s Casey Mabbott, Arran Gimba and Bryant Knox.
Through randomization, Gimba received the No. 1 overall pick while Mabbott nabbed No. 2 and Knox took No. 3. OSN utilized a snake-style draft and required each GM to select 12 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 2010s 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 1 of a five-part Oregon Sports News series! Vote for your favorite 2010s team below, and check back next Monday, July 27 to see who makes the cut in our 2000s edition—this time with an NBA championship on the line.
Arran Gimba’s Team
|1 (1)||Damian Lillard|
|2 (6)||CJ McCollum|
|3 (7)||Zach Collins|
|4 (12)||Marcus Camby|
|5 (13)||Jamal Crawford|
|6 (18)||Al-Farouq Aminu|
|7 (19)||Terry Stotts (Coach)|
|8 (24)||Rodney Hood|
|9 (25)||Evan Turner|
|10 (30)||Allen Crabbe|
|11 (31)||J.J. Hickson|
|12 (36)||Hassan Whiteside|
|13 (37)||Seth Curry|
|14 (42)||Pat Connaughton (IR)|
- Damian Lillard
- CJ McCollum
- Al-Farouq Aminu
- Marcus Camby
- Zach Collins
Reserves: Jamal Crawford, Rodney Hood, Evan Turner, Allen Crabbe, J.J. Hickson, Hassan Whiteside, Seth Curry
Injured Reserve: Pat Connaughton
Head Coach: Terry Stotts
My Draft Strategy Going In: My goal was to have Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in the backcourt and then fill the rest of my team with defensive stallworths. With Aminu, Collins, Camby, Whiteside, and Hood, I accomplished this. I am pretty confident no one is going to push this team around. Camby is to Marty McSorley as Lillard is to Wayne Gretzky. Yes, Lillard and McCollum may account for 90% of the team’s scoring, but Whiteside is the king of sneaky contributions, Hood has the potential to score more on my team, and don’t forget Jamal Crawford coming off the bench (more on him later). Here’s hoping for low-scoring basketball!
How My Strategy Changed and Why My Team Will Win:
I realized midway through that I had to draft Coach Terry Stotts. Can you imagine Lillard and McCollum being coached by Nate McMillian? Yikes! Not that Nate was a bad coach; his defensive coaching philosophy just wouldn’t mix with those two.
OK, Jamal Crawford. I know he didn’t have a great year in Portland (2011). But remember – Coach McMillian was fired that year, he had to replace Brandon Roy (hard to do), and he had to start at point guard after Raymond Felton acted like, well, Raymond Felton. With Coach Stotts as the coach, I would expect him to go back to the bench and thrive.
Finally, not sure how Hassan Whiteside was left available in the 12th round. Say what you want about him, he should not have been drafted that far down (Rudy was taken before him?!)
Casey Mabbott’s Team
|1 (2)||Brandon Roy|
|2 (5)||Nicolas Batum|
|3 (8)||Robin Lopez|
|4 (11)||Wesley Matthews|
|5 (14)||Mo Williams|
|6 (17)||Enes Kanter|
|7 (20)||Will Barton|
|8 (23)||Joel Przybilla|
|9 (26)||Jake Layman|
|10 (29)||Maurice Harkless|
|11 (32)||Meyers Leonard|
|12 (35)||Elliot Williams|
|13 (38)||Thomas Robinson (IR)|
|14 (41)||Kaleb Canales (Coach)|
- Mo Williams
- Wesley Matthews
- Brandon Roy
- Nicolas Batum
- Enes Kanter
Reserves: Robin Lopez, Will Barton, Joel Przybilla, Jake Layman, Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Elliot Williams
Injured Reserve: Thomas Robinson
Head Coach: Kaleb Canales
My Draft Strategy Going In: Assemble the best talent available and make the lineup work. Talent over need – because we need talent! Not sure how well this five will gel, but don’t worry about it! This team can score, they can play small ball, they can handle bigger lineups, and they can play defense. Someone is going down with a serious injury, but until that happens, it should be glorious.
How My Strategy Changed and Why My Team Will Win: As soon as the best players at the key positions started to tumble, I didn’t blink – I just kept taking the best player on the board knowing we would figure out playing time later. The top 5 are elite, and the bottom 7-8 are damn good players.
If this team has to play ball with an opponent that could be any team between the Warriors, Cavaliers, Heat, Spurs, Mavericks, Lakers, Thunder, and Celtics, then they had better have range. No one is looking at this lineup and wondering if they have range. This team will win.
Bryant Knox’s Team
|1 (3)||LaMarcus Aldridge|
|2 (4)||Jusuf Nurkić|
|3 (9)||Andre Miller|
|4 (10)||Carmelo Anthony|
|5 (15)||Steve Blake|
|6 (16)||Gerald Wallace|
|7 (21)||Nate McMillan (Coach)|
|8 (22)||Martell Webster|
|9 (27)||Ed Davis|
|10 (28)||Travis Outlaw|
|11 (33)||Rudy Fernández|
|12 (34)||Chris Kaman|
|13 (39)||Gerald Henderson|
|14 (40)||Greg Oden|
- Andre Miller
- Steve Blake
- Carmelo Anthony
- LaMarcus Aldridge
- Jusuf Nurkic
Reserves: Gerald Wallace, Martell Webster, Ed Davis, Travis Outlaw, Rudy Fernandez, Chris Kaman, Gerald Henderson
Injured Reserve: Greg Oden
Head Coach: Nate McMillan
My Draft Strategy Going In: I knew Jusuf Nurkic was mine at No. 4 regardless, but the question was which of LaMarcus Aldridge or CJ McCollum would also be available. It turned out both were there for me at No. 3…which totally threw me off. Should I forget the Bosnian Beast and take the two most talented players on the board? Do I trust CJ to be my primary ball-handler/scorer next to Nurk? Can LaMarcus and a true center work as 1-2 Punch in the 2010s? … If my strategy going in was to have an immediate existential crisis, I succeeded.
How My Strategy Changed and Why My Team Will Win: I had to go big. It wasn’t about any distrust in CJ; I just figured if I could get the right guards in place to set up the bigs, bucking the pace-and-space trend of the decade could be survivable in a pickup setting.
I’m not going to lie to you guys, though—when Terry Stotts came off the board I panic-took Nate McMillan because I knew this group needed more than Kaleb Canales (all due respect). But now I couldn’t be more pleased. Despite not having Brandon Roy, my starting lineup is tailor-made for Nate’s offense, and we know he’ll find a way to use Steve Blake as both a starting SG and a backup PG since sommeeeeone forgot to draft a reserve point.
Oh, and not to bury the lede, but Pickup Melo + Crash with a little Gerald Henderson/Martell/Trout mixed in is the ultimate scrimmage swingman set. This team isn’t going for traditional success. But success shouldn’t be hard to come by.