With his jaw-dropping performances in Orlando, Damian Lillard has the Portland Trailblazers on the cusp of being the most dangerous No. 8 seed in the history of the NBA playoffs. Lillard has averaged 37.6 points since the season resumed and is likely to be named the bubble MVP when the award is announced ahead of the Blazers’ matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday afternoon.
So that got us to thinking. Where does Damian Lillard rank on the list of all-time greatest Portland Trailblazers? Here’s a quick look at our picks for the top five.
5. Geoff Petrie
Many not recognize the name Geoff Petrie but the Princeton grad was a force for the Portland Trailblazers for six seasons before he was dealt to the Atlanta Hawks in the trade that brought Maurice Lucas, who just missed out on this list, to Rip City. Petrie never suited up for the Hawks as knee injuries forced him to retire following the trade.
Petrie was taken with the eighth overall pick in the 1970 NBA draft and made an immediate impact for the Blazers. The 6’4″ guard averaged 24.1 points per game in 1970-1971 and was named NBA Rookie of the Year, sharing the award with Boston Celtics star Dave Cowens.
In six seasons with Portland, the two-time All-Star averaged 20.9 points without the benefit of the three-point line, which certainly would have upped that average given his long-range ability. His No. 45 was retired by the team in 1985. Petrie later became the architect of the great Sacramento Kings teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s and was twice named NBA Executive of the Year.
4. LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge was an absolute beast for the Portland Trailblazers for nine seasons and is still producing at a high level for the San Antonio Spurs.
Aldridge was taken by the Chicago Bulls with the second pick of the 2006 NBA draft but was soon after traded to the Blazers for the draft rights to Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khryapa. It’s safe to say Portland got the better end of the deal.
In nine seasons in Rip City, LaMarcus Aldridge averaged 19.4 points and 8.3 rebounds. He made four All-Star appearance as a member of the Blazers and still holds the franchise records for defensive rebounds (3,698) and total rebounds (5,434).
3. Bill Walton
Had Bill Walton not gotten injured, there’s a strong chance that he could have been seen as the greatest center in NBA history. He’s responsible for leading the Portland Trailblazers to the only title in franchise history in 1977 and would likely top this list had he not played just 230 games, which includes the postseason. But that goes to show just how dominant he really was.
In those four seasons with the Blazers, Walton averaged 17.1 points, 13.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 2.6 blocks per game. In the championship season of 1976-1977, he led the NBA in rebounding and blocks and also won NBA Finals MVP, averaging 18.5 points, 19 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 3.7 blocks per game against the Philadelphia 76ers. He was named NBA MVP the following season before foot injuries derailed his career. His No. 32 was retired by the team in 1989.
2. Damian Lillard
So close. Damian Lillard is certainly one of the best Portland Trailblazers of all time but he’s not quite at the top of the list just yet.
Taken by the Blazers with the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft out of Weber State, Lillard won NBA Rookie of the Year in 2013, averaging 19 points and 6.5 assists per game. As his career has progressed, Lillard has become one of the biggest scoring threats in the NBA, as evidenced by his amazing play in the bubble, which included a 61-point game, the third time in 2019-2020 that he reached the 60-point mark.
In eight seasons with the Blazers, Lillard has made five All-Star appearances and is a four-time All-NBA selection (one First Team, two Second Team, one Third Team) with a fifth likely to be added in 2020. He’s averaged 24.2 points and 6.5 assists in his career and is already in second place on the all-time franchise scoring list, behind only the obviously number one entry on this list.
Clyde Drexler is the clear choice to top the list of all-time greatest Portland Trailblazers. Following a great career at the University of Houston, Drexler was taken with the 14th overall selection of the 1983 NBA draft and became one of the greatest shooting guards in history.
Drexler played the first 10 1/2 seasons of his career with the Blazers and averaged 20.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.6 assists. Drexler holds numerous franchise records, including games played, minutes, field goals, points, steals, and offensive rebounds, the last being a very underrated part of his game. What some may not know is that Clyde Drexler is the all-time NBA leader in offensive rebounds for a guard.
During his time in Rip City, Drexler was an eight-time All-Star, a five-time All-NBA selection, and led the Blazers to the NBA Finals on two occasions. “The Glide” also won a gold medal as part of the “Dream Team” at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
Damian Lillard has a ways to go before passing Clyde Drexler atop this list but if he can find a way to lead the Portland Trailblazers to a title over the next few years, which is when he’ll become the franchise’s all-time leading scorer (assuming he stays put anyway), he certainly has a chance at that No. 1 spot.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference