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5 Blazers that could have been

Published by Axel on 26th June - 03:09 (CET)
The 2016 NBA Finals is done, The 2016 NBA Draft are all over, and the off-season has officially begun.

Most of the talk these last days has been about free agency signings or trades, so in true off-season spirit this post is just a list to remind you of some draft picks that for various reasons never lived up to their true potential.

This time it's the Portland Trail Blazers edition!

So have a look at our list of '5 Blazers that could have been' while silently praying that no players from this years draft ends up on a list like this in the future.
Picked 1st overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by Portland Trail Blazers.

Greg Oden was one of those defensively strong 7 foot centers who could still jump and run. He was impressively athletic for his size, liked to run the lanes, and had a natural talent for positioning.

He attended Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, where he won three consecutive Indiana Class 4A basketball championships while also winning about every single player of the year award there is before he graduated in 2006.

Oden played one season in college for Ohio State University, averaging an impressive 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game while shooting .616 in field goal percentage. That season Oden made the NCAA All-American 2nd Team while also becoming the first freshman in college history to be named the NABC Defensive Player of the Year.

Even though he was a just a 19-year-old freshman and had a shortened college career due to a wrist injury that required surgery, his potential ceiling was viewed so high that he was picked 1st overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, before players like Kevin Durant, Al Hordord, Mike Conley, Thaddeus Young, Joakim Noah and Marc Gasol.

But before his rookie season could begin he had a microfracture surgery on his right knee, and missed the whole season. His rookie season was therefore postponed a year, and during his time off he had gained a lot of weight. 13 minutes into his first game back he had to leave with a foot injury. In February 2009 he injured his left knee again when bumping into Warriors' Corey Maggette. In December 2009 he injured the very same left knee again, this time requiring surgery. After that, it was already over...

He's tried to comeback on numerous occasions and actually played 26 games for Miami during the 2013 - 2014 season, but didn't show much promise. Last year he went to China to play for Jiangsu Dragons in the CBA, and prepare for the 2016 - 2017 NBA season. In 25 games for the Dragons, he averaged 13.0 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.

As of right now he's attending The Ohio State University to finish his college degree while also being a student manager for the Buckeyes, Ohio State men's basketball team.

Oden played in 105 NBA games, averaging 19.3 minutes, 8.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting .551 in field goal percentage.
Picked 6th overall in the 2006 NBA Draft by Minnesota Timberwolves to instantly be traded to Portland Trail Blazers.

Shooting guard Brandon Roy played four seasons in college for Washington Huskies, with his most notable one in his senior year, where he averaged an impressive 20.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.8 blocks per game while also shooting .508 in FG%, and .402 3P%. Good enough to get him selected to the All-Pac-10 First-team, being a Consensus first-team All-American while also winning Pac-10 Player of the Year Award.

He then went on to the NBA, to step into the starting five for Portland Trail Blazers. In his rookie season he averaged 16.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game, and went on to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2007, over teammate LaMarcus Aldridge, and other players like Andrea Bargnani, Rudy Gay, Paul Millsap and Rajon Rondo.

During his sophomore season he was already selected to the NBA All-Star Team, and the following seasons he improved even further as he made his 3rd consecutive All-Star appearance while also being selected to the All-NBA Team twice in a row.

In August 2009, Roy signed a four-year max contract with the Trail Blazers, with a fifth-year player option.

In early 2010, he had problems with some lingering hamstring injuries, and in April he sustained a meniscus tear to his right knee, and only returned briefly during the playoffs. By December, 2010, it was getting apparent that his knees, that had bothered him since college, no longer could take the toll of playing NBA game, and it was revealed that he lacked cartilage between the bones in both of his knees.
It didn't take long until the Blazers ruled him out indefinitely, and in January he had arthroscopic surgery on both his knees.

Again he came back for the playoffs, this time facing Dallas Mavericks. After a poor start to the series he started to show some promise, but Dallas defeated Portland in 6 games and off to another season.
Only that there were no other season. Before the 2011 - 2012 season Roy announced that his knees were in such bad condition that he had no other choice than to retire from professional basketball, and Portland Trail Blazers subsequently used their amnesty clause on him to clear cap space.

Just about a year later he announced that he was intending to make another comeback, after having received the same platelet-rich plasma procedure as Kobe had.
Since the Blazers already had used their amnesty clause on him he was prohibited from playing for them, and instead played 5 regular season games for Minnesota Timberwolves before he had to end his season due to another knee surgery.

"Any time you walk away from the game, you have 'what-ifs'. I feel like I was able to answer those questions last year by going out there and giving it a try."

- Brandon Roy, after being waived by Minnesota Timberwolves in May, 2013.
Picked 60th overall in the 1986 NBA Draft by Portland Trail Blazers.

Dražen Petrović was an incredibly talented shooting guard from Yugoslavia who while playing for KK Cibona, Real Madrid, his native Yugoslavia, and later on Crotia, gained a lot of fame and titles because of his outstanding shooting ability. He once scored 112 points in a Yugoslavian league game.

If you doubt his legitimacy, just take a look at his list of some awards he managed to get in a quite early stage of his career.

1x Best Athlete of Yugoslavia (1985)
2x Euroleague Champion (1985, 1986)
1x Euroleague Finals Top Scorer (1985)
2x FIBA Saporta Cup champion (1987, 1989)
2x FIBA Saporta Cup Finals Top Scorer (1987, 1989)
1x FIBA World Championship MVP (1986)
1x FIBA EuroBasket Champion (1989)
1x FIBA EuroBasket MVP (1989)
1x Spanish Cup Final Top Scorer (1989)
1x FIBA World Cup Gold Medalist (1990)
4x Euroscar Award (1986, 1989, 1992, 1993)
2x Mr. Europa Award (1986, 1993)

After a very promising career in Europe he was selected by the Trail Blazers in the 1986 draft.
But playing behind Clyde Drexler there wasn't much playing time available for Petrović, who got traded to New Jersey Nets in January, during his sophomore year.

In New Jersey, he immediately showed why he was regarded as such a deadly scorer in Europe, as he averaged a very good 12.6 points while shooting .500 in FG% his first season with the Nets. That's while only playing 20.5 minutes per game!

He improved even further the following two seasons, and helped the Nets reach the playoffs for the first time since 1986. In his second full season with the Nets he averaged 22.3 points per game while shooting .518 in FG% and .449 in 3P%.

After the season ended Petrović seemed bothered with the relationship he had with some of his teammates, and the fact that he didn't get enough recognition from the league made him consider to leave the NBA to play in Greece.

He never got to play in Greece or the NBA again, as he on June 7, 1993, tragically passed away in a traffic accident in Germany.

Petrović holds the 4th best career average in 3-Point Field Goal Percentage, of all time (behind Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry & Hubert Davis) and is by many viewed as one of the best shooters to have ever played the game.

He is also named to the 50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors, FIBA's 50 Greatest Players, and both the Basketball and the FIBA Hall of Fame.
Picked 24th overall in the 1986 NBA Draft by Portland Trail Blazers.

7.3' Center Arvydas Sabonis was born in Kaunas, Lithuanian SSR, Soviet Union, and is regarded as one of the best European players of all time.

Sabonis began playing professional in 1981 for BC Žalgiris, in his hometown of Kaunas. There he won three consecutive Soviet League titles and reached the 1986 Euroleague finals.

He was initially selected by Atlanta Hawks with the 77th pick in the 1985 NBA Draft, but due to Sabonis' young age at the time, only being 21, the draft the pick was voided.

The following season he suffered a Achilles' tendon injury bad enough to end most players careers, but even so he was selected by Portland Trail Blazers in the 1986 years draft, same year as Petrović.

But as he was a player from The Soviet Union he was wasn't allowed to play in the NBA until 1989, and instead he went to Forum Valladolid in Spain to play for three years.
Then he played another three years for Real Madrid before finally going over to the NBA.

During some of his time in Europe he was more or less forced to play a inhumane schedule without rest for the Soviet National Team, even though he was injured. Which in turn resulted in more injuries, and eventually he developed chronic knee, ankle and groin issues, which ruined his NBA career even before it began. This was at the time heavily criticized by Portland Trail Blazers.

Despite injuries he also racked up about as many awards as you can get in Europe, and internationally:
1x FIBA World Cup Gold Medalist (1982)
1x FIBA EuroBasket Champion (1985)
1x FIBA EuroBasket MVP (1985)
6x Euroscar Player of the Year (1984, 1985, 1988, 1995, 1997, 1999)
2x Mr. Europa Player of the Year (1985, 1997)
3x USSR League Champion (1985 – 1987)
1x Club World Cup Champion (1986)
1x Olympic Gold Medalist (1988)
1x Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey) Champion (1993)
2x ACB League Champion (1993. 1994)
2x Spanish League Finals MVP (1994, 1995)
1x Euroleague Champion (1995)
1x Euroleague Final Four MVP (1995)

By the time he came to the US he was basically playing bone-to-bone, but was good enough to get selected to NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1996. In 1997 - 1998 he was 34 years old, and still managed to average 16.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. He played 4 more injury plagued seasons in the NBA before going back to Europe to win another Euroleague Regular Season MVP Award in 2004, at the age of 40.

He is selected to FIBA's 50 Greatest Players as well as being inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame.
Some NBA profiles believed by then - and still believes - that he would potentially have been the best player in the NBA, had he went there earlier. And that's during a time when prime Michael Jordan played..
As he played behind 'The Iron Curtain' there isn't much footage from his prime, but legend say that he played like Dirk Nowitzki, but 7.3' tall ;)
Picked 2nd overall in the 1984 NBA Draft by Portland Trail Blazers.

Sam Bowie will always be remembered as one of the worst draft picks in NBA history. Not because of his basketball skills - he did after all end up on the NBA All-Rookie First Team of perhaps the best draft class in NBA history - but because of who got picked after him.

As a player at Lebanon High School, Bowie averaged over 28 points and 18 rebounds per game, and ofcourse so was an McDonald's All-American and Parade All-American.

In three seasons he played 96 games for Kentucky Wildcats. Averaging 28.8 minutes, 13.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game while shooting .522 in field goal percentage.

Then came the 1984 NBA Draft and Houston Rockets picked 'The Dream' with the first pick.
Portland had just picked star guard Clyde Drexler the year before, and therefore passed on no other than Michael Jordan to pick 7.1' center Sam Bowie. They also passed on Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Alvin Robertson and Kevin Willis amongst many other good players.

After a promising start of his NBA career he went through numerous of injuries and never quite managed to live up to his potential. During 10 seasons he played 551 games, averaging 27.6 minutes, 10.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 blocks per game. He never got selected to the All-Star Team.

For the sake of all Trail Blaizers-fans I'm not even going for LaRue Martin...

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