Portland Trail Blazers Fantasy Draft – All-Time Edition

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Here. We. Go. 

Today marks Week 5 of the Oregon Sports News Portland Trail Blazers Fantasy Draft Challenge.  In Week 1, we drafted rosters using only Rip City players from the 2010s. In Week 2, it was the 2000s. Week 3 saw us focus on the 1990s, and last week, we bucked the trend using players from both the 1970s and ‘80s

This week, the team’s 50-year history comes together, as OSN drafts and builds three squads using every player to ever suit up in a Trail Blazers uniform.

The players we drafted? We’re drafting them at their “Trail Blazers peaks.” That means anyone selected is at his subjective “best days with the Blazers,” so skill sets, leadership, basketball IQ—it all applies, along with stamina, durability, and other factors. 

To further set the parameters, our general managers are building rosters as if they’re competing against each other for the right to battle all-time teams across the league. 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 Knox nabbed No. 2 and Mabbott 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. 

For both players and coaches, style matters! But filling a traditional point guard-through-center rotation was never required. 

Check back with OSN later this week for a Portland Trail Blazers Fantasy Draft bonus installment: The All-Time Simulation!

Arran Gimba’s Team

Rd (Overall)Player
1 (1)Bill Walton
2 (6)Rasheed Wallace
3 (7)Terry Porter
4 (12)Kiki Vandeweghe
5 (13)CJ McCollum
6 (18)Mychal Thompson
7 (19)Sidney Wicks
8 (24)Damon Stoudamire
9 (25)Scottie Pippen
10 (30)Isaiah Rider
11 (31)Hassan Whiteside
12 (36)Lionel Hollins
13 (37)Carmelo Anthony (IR)
14 (42)Terry Stotts (Coach)

Starting 5:

  •  Terry Porter
  •  CJ McCollum
  •  Kiki Vandeweghe
  •  Rasheed Wallace
  •  Bill Walton

Reserves: Mychal Thompson, Sidney Wicks, Damon Stoudamire, Scottie Pippen, Isaiah Rider, Hassan Whiteside, Lionel Hollins

Injured Reserve: Carmelo Anthony

Head Coach: Terry Stotts

Draft Strategy Going In: I admittedly had the hardest time deciding my #1 pick. Full disclosure, we conducted this draft before Damian Lillard was declared the Bubble MVP. Would I have chosen Lillard #1 if we did this later? Perhaps. But in the moment, I chose Bill Walton, the greatest big man in Blazers history. He can shoot, he can rebound, he can PASS, and he can play excellent defense. He can do it all. After him, my draft strategy was fairly simple – Draft the best available. There is so much depth in every position (except shooting guard) that it made it fairly easy to decide.

How Strategy Changed/Why My Team Will Win: 

Look, I’m sure Casey and Bryant are going to say their team will dominate. I’m going to say the same thing too. The main difference will be championship experience. Walton (1), Rasheed Wallace (1), Mychael Thompson (2), Lionel Hollins (1) and, of course, Scottie Pippen (6). That’s more than Casey and Bryant’s teams. If the score is close, I’m confident we can pull through. Honestly though, it’ll probably come down to some NBA2K simulation. 

Bryant Knox’s Team

Rd (Overall)Player
1 (2)Damian Lillard
2 (5)Brandon Roy
3 (8)Maurice Lucas
4 (11)Arvydas Sabonis
5 (14)Nicolas Batum
6 (17)Kevin Duckworth
7 (20)Geoff Petrie
8 (23)Buck Williams
9 (26)Calvin Natt
10 (29)Marcus Camby
11 (32)Steve Smith
12 (35)Danny Ainge
13 (38)Jack Ramsay (Coach)
14 (41)Shareef Abdur-Rahim (IR)

Starting 5: 

  • Damian Lillard
  • Brandon Roy
  • Nicolas Batum
  • Maurice Lucas
  • Arvydas Sabonis

Reserves: Kevin Duckworth, Geoff Petrie, Buck williams, Calvin Natt, Marcus Camby, Steve Smith, Danny Ainge

Injury Reserve: Shareef Abdur-Rahim

Head Coach: Jack Ramsay

Draft Strategy Going In: Choosing between Clyde Drexler and Damian Lillard wasn’t easy…but to be honest, I was just relieved not to have to choose between Drexler, Lillard and Bill Walton. 

Drafting Lillard with my first pick opened up so many opportunities, but to be even more honest…Brandon Roy really wasn’t one I was contemplating until the moment arrived. After that it was about adding balance to a roster that featured two of the three best guards in franchise history. 

How Strategy Changed/Why My Team Will Win: I don’t know if I expected Maurice Lucas to be taken earlier, but I was pleasantly surprised when my third pick came around and he was available to lock down the paint, regardless of our style of play. Considering the makeup of my first three picks, I wanted a 3 and a 5 who could shoot when left alone but also make plays. Sabonis and Batum more than fit the bill. 

The draft outside the starting 5 became a chase to snag up all the top talent—a chase I found myself losing over and over again, with respect to my guys but also with my eyes originally on Scottie Pippen, Rod Strickland and a whole lot more. But Rip City legends Buck Williams and Kevin Duckworth ensure any perimeter defense concerns are neutralized at the rim, and Geoff Petrie’s ahead-of-his-time style lets him play both the backup 1 and 2 at 6’4”—all with Steve Smith splitting his time at shooting guard and small forward. 

Calvin Natt takes the permanent role of backup 3, while Marcus Camby will be responsible for locking down the paint and stepping out to defend the game’s more modern 4s and 5s.

Dr. Jack Ramsay? He’ll figure out how to get these guys to play together, no doubt about that. But we also think we gave him a good head start with a roster that shows very few weaknesses. 

Rd (Overall)Player
1 (3)Clyde Drexler
2 (4)LaMarcus Aldridge
3 (9)Jerome Kersey
4 (10)Clifford Robinson
5 (15)Rod Strickland
6 (16)Jusuf Nurkić
7 (21)Wesley Matthews
8 (22)Jim Paxson
9 (27)Andre Miller
10 (28)Zach Randolph
11 (33)Robin Lopez
12 (34)Gerald Wallace
13 (39)Larry Steele (IR)
14 (40)Rick Adelman (Coach)

Starting 5:

  •  Rod Strickland
  •  Clyde Drexler
  •  Jerome Kersey
  •  LaMarcus Aldridge
  •  Jusuf Nurkic 

Reserves: Clifford Robinson, Wesley Matthews, Jim Paxson, Andre Miller, Zach Randolph, Robin Lopez, Gerald Wallace

Injury Reserve: Larry Steele

Head Coach: Rick Adelman

Draft Strategy Going In: When you’re choosing names off the top 39 players in franchise history, you don’t need a well thought out plan. Just pick the best player available when it’s your turn, and that’s it. Portland has had so many great players at every spot, you literally can’t miss. The fun part about drafting from such a deep talent pool is that you can afford to just take your favorite players and figure out where they fit in later, you don’t need to make sure you draft a certain position at any time. 

How Strategy Changed/Why My Team Will Win: Going in, my plan was to get one of the top players in franchise history (Walton, Drexler, Lillard), and build out my team from there. With one of the top three picks (crazy right?), I was able to accomplish this main goal quite easily. After that, it was a fun game of reminiscing and collecting the best players from each era in order to assemble what I felt was the most dominant lineup of all time. With three outstanding centers in the draft (Walton, Sabonis, Nurkic), as long as no team got greedy, we knew that all three of us were going to end up with an injury prone but amazing passer, rebounder, and rim protector to anchor the defense. After that, you just put names down for who you would want to see matched up with the all-time greats from other franchises and while I think any of the three of us could win this thing, I really do like my lineup the most. Would I prefer a starting five of Lillard, Drexler, Kersey, Lucas, and Walton? Sure, but we were asked to share the wealth and so we each ended up with a blended lineup. Strickland isn’t Dame – no one is. But the other four players in this lineup can more than handle the best four players from any franchise. So we’re not asking Rod to be one of the best players of all time, we’re just asking him to be among the 10 best players on the court at any given time, and we think he can meet that expectation. 

If you liked the starting five, check out the reserves – Cliff Robinson, Wesley Matthews, Jim Paxson, Andre Miller, Zach Randolph, Robin Lopez, and Gerald “Crash” Wallace, with Larry Steele as the emergency player. That’s all-time, if I’ve ever seen it, and would have a ton of confidence in the reserves being their own starting five, but this draft went so well we can afford to keep them on as insanely great depth. Robinson was drafted in the 4th round/10th overall as the 6th man, and while that might seem generous, we know what Uncle Cliff can do and didn’t want to risk seeing him on another roster. Since he was a player on the team in their first season, and coached them in two Finals appearances, Rick Adelman was selected as the head coach for this great lineup. Other coaches may have been with the team longer or won a championship, but Rick had such a unique history with the team, we couldn’t pass up on pairing him with such an exceptional team. We think Rick can take this lineup to the ultimate glory. 

I’m usually quick to pick my own lineup, I did choose all of these players after all. But looking at my team side by side with the other two, I can say in complete confidence that any of the three could beat the others and emerge as the team to represent the franchise in an all-time roster tournament for the ages. That said, I’m still rooting for my team and think they have what it takes to win. Each team is comprised of a third of the franchise’s history, so it’s safe to say any of those players would be able to rise to the top. 

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