OSN: Who Belongs On The Portland Trail Blazers’ Mount Rushmore?
Patrick Rogers | Oregon Sports News
On Monday, Damian Lillard surpassed Clyde Drexler for the most points scored by Trail Blazers. This should be no surprise, as Dame has been a lethal scorer in this league since he joined in 2012. This has sparked a debate among Blazers fans. Does this make Dame the best Blazer of all time? I don’t like to compare players over eras, as the play style, skill, and athleticism is different over the decades. Instead, let’s make a Mount Rushmore-style selection of the best four Blazers of all time:
Damian Lillard (PG – 2012/13 to Current)
Trail Blazers Accolades: 6x All-Star, 6x All-NBA, ROY, NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Trail Blazers Career Averages: 24.7 PPG / 4.2 RPG / 6.7 APG / 96.8 WS
Best Season: 2019-20: 30.0 PPG / 4.3 RPG / 8.0 APG / 11.6 WS
Damian Lillard burst onto the scene in 2012 and captured the Rookie of the Year honors away from the likes of Anthony Davis and Bradley Beal. That year, he averaged 19 points per game and 6.5 assists per game. Since almost every season, Dame has increased that scoring average, topping at 30.0 points per game in the 2019-2020 season. Dame has garnered many nicknames during his time with the Blazers, including Dame Time for his clutch performances, Logo Lillard for his three-pointers from the center court logo, and his rap alias, Dame D.O.L.L.A. However, his most significant moment was the game-winner he hit against the Thunder, which sent them home during the 2019 playoffs. He dribbled down the clock during a tie game, took a hop step to the right, and jacked up a shot from inside the logo. This fantastic game-winner etched his legacy into the minds of Blazers fans.
Clyde Drexler (SG – 1983/84 to 1994/95)
Trail Blazers Accolades: Hall of Fame, 8x All Star, 5x All-NBA, NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Trail Blazers Career Averages: 20.4 PPG / 6.2 RPG / 5.7 APG / 108.7 WS
Best Season: 1988-89: 27.2 PPG / 7.9 RPG / 5.8 APG / 12.6 WS
Clyde Drexler was an athletic finisher for the Trail Blazers. While the Blazers featured talented players during his tenures, such as Kiki Vandeweghe and Terry Porter, Drexler was the clear star. He burst onto the NBA’s radar with his win in the Dunk Contest in 1989. Clyde showed off that athleticism with a couple of windmill dunks and a 360, earning the nickname “The Glide.” The Blazers never missed the playoffs while he was on the team, making the Finals twice, only to lose to the best player of that time, Michael Jordan. During the 1994/95 season, the Blazers and Rockets agreed to a trade sending Drexler to the Rockets in exchange for Otis Thorpe, Marcelo Nicola, and a first-round pick. Drexler was the all-time leading scorer for the Blazers at the time of the trade.
Bill Walton (C – 1974/75 to 1977/78)
Trail Blazers Accolades: Hall Of Fame, NBA Champion, Finals MVP, 2x All-Star, 2x All-Defensive, 2x All-NBA, NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Trail Blazers Career Averages: 17.1 PPG / 13.5 RPG / 2.6 BPG / 26.0 WS
Best Season 1976-1977: 18.6 PPG / 14.4 RPG / 3.2 BPG / 10.2 WS
Bill Walton’s reputation in the league was that of a championship player. Walton was the standout player on the dominant UCLA basketball team. While at school, UCLA went 86-4, with Walton being the premier player on the team. He averaged 20.3 points per game and 15.7 rebounds per game, all on 65.1% shooting. It didn’t take long for Walton to replicate this with the Blazers. In his third year, Walton averaged 18.6 points per game and 14.4 rebounds per game while leading the league in blocks with 3.2 per game. As a result, the Blazers won their first NBA title alongside fellow big man Maurice Lucas. Unfortunately, injuries started to derail Walton’s career, missing the entire 1978-79 season and eventually signing to play with the San Diego Clippers in the 1979-80 season. Although Walton’s time was short with the Blazers, his impact was immense.
LaMarcus Aldridge (PF – 2006/07 to 2014/15)
Trail Blazers Accolades: 5x All-Star, 4x All-NBA
Trail Blazers Career Averages: 19.4 PPG / 8.4 RPG / 1.9 APG / 69.4 WS
Best Season 2013-14: 23.2 PPG / 11.1 RPG / 2.6 APG / 7.5 WS
LaMarcus Aldridge was a part of the wild 2006 NBA draft trades that brought him and Brandon Roy over to the Blazers. Aldridge was traded from the Bulls for Viktor Khryapa and the rights to Tyrus Thomas. The Blazers made out well in this trade. Aldridge eased into the league averaging just nine points and five rebounds. In his sophomore season, his output jumped to 17.8 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per game. From then on, LA was a perennial 20/10 player. Throughout his time with the Blazers, he provided consistency on a team with many ups and downs. His peak with the team came in the 2013/14 season. Aldridge helped lead the team to their first playoff series win since the 1999/2000 season, dropping 46 points in Game One against Dwight Howard. Aldridge moved on to San Antonio after the 2014/15 season and has since retired. Aldridge is the Blazers’ all-time leader in rebounds and is third in scoring.