Jun 07

The Top 7 Gems In Blazers' Draft Day History

By petro4three Posted in: 2012draft, draft, history

While much of the discussion over the upcoming draft has rightfully concerned the Blazers' two lottery picks, fans must not forget that the team also has two second round picks. Besides picking at #6 and #11 in the first round, the Blazers will also pick at #40 and #41 in the second round, selections which are not insignificant.

The Blazers have historically shown that their scouts, coaches, and front office personnel have the ability to find gems late in drafts. Perhaps that will be true this year as well.

When compiling a list of draft day gems, my criteria consisted of where the player was selected in their draft and what contribution he made to the team and the franchise. When it came to ranking the draft day gems, I did not necessary list them in terms of career achievements alone, but career achievements + draft position. I also did not include players acquired via trade on draft day - that sounds like a topic that needs a separate post. Here is my countdown.

Dave Twardzik

Year: '72 Round: 2
Overall Pick: (26)

   Taken out of Old Dominion, Twardzik played an important role on the Blazers during the 1976-1977 championship season. He averaged 10.3 points per game in the regular season and shot 61% from the field as 6'1" guard. In the playoffs that year, Twardzik played 25 minutes a game, averaging 10.9 points. His #13 is retired by the team.

Larry Steele

Year: '71 Round: 3
Overall Pick: (37)

   As a former Kentucky Wildcat, Steele also played and important role during the Blazers' championship season. He averaged 10.3 points during the regular season and was a valuable player off the bench during the playoffs. Steele is 5th on the Blazers' all-time steals list and 9th on the all-time assists list. His #15 is retired by the team.

Bobby Gross

Year: '75 Round: 2
Overall Pick: (25)

   Out of Cal. State-Long Beach, Gross averaged 11.4 points, shot 85% from the line, and 52.9% from the field as he played in all 82 games during the 1976-1977 season. Playing 30 minutes a game in the playoffs, he averaged 14.1 points and shot 88.9% from the line and 59.1% from the field. Along with Terry Porter, Gross' #30 is retired by the team.

Terry Porter

Year: '85 Round: 1
Overall Pick: (24)

   Out of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Porter was the last pick in the first round in 1985. While 15 of the players selected before him were never All-Stars, Porter made the team twice. He also helped lead the Blazers to two Finals appearances in '90 and '92. His all-time ranks include: 1st in assists, 1st in three's made, 2nd in steals, and 3rd in games played.

Lloyd Neal

Year: '72 Round: 3
Overall Pick: (31)

   Out of Tennessee State, Neal, an undersized 6'7" forward-center, was a third-round selection who made the All-Rookie team, averaging 13.4 and 11.8 rebounds his first season. Neal played off the bench during the Blazers' championship season. Neal is 8th all-time in Blazers' history in rebounding. His #36 is retired by the team.

Cliff Robinson

Year: '89 Round: 2
Overall Pick: (36)

   Out of U Conn, Robinson was the 9th player selected in the 2nd round in 1989. Eight first-rounders would make the All-Star team out of that draft, while Robinson was the only second-rounder to do so, which he did in 1994. He was also an important player on two Finals' teams. He is 2nd all-time in blocks and 3rd all-time in three's made.

Jerome Kersey

Year: '84 Round: 2
Overall Pick: (46)

   Out of Longwood University, Kersey was the second-to-last pick in the 2nd round in 1984. He averaged 20.7 points per game in the 1990 Finals run. Kersey also finished 2nd in the 1987 Slam Dunk Contest. He is 2nd on the Blazers' all-time list in games played, 2nd in rebounding, 3rd in minutes and steals, 4th in points, and 8th in assists.

Could this year produce another Kersey? In a draft this deep and the Blazers' front office filling out, there is no reason why not.

Honorable mention: Drazen Petrovic - I had to, my blog is named after him! - 1986 draft, 3rd round, 60th overall selection

(Photo credits: Twardzik, Steele, Robinson, Kersey -; Porter -; Gross, Neal - Topps basketball cards)


  1. Great blog! It's crazy how the Trail Blazers front office basically created the greatest "team" (their three-year run from 90-92 still hasn't been matched) almost entirely through the draft and did so with late in the draft. They even traded for second round pick, Kevin Duckworth, 15 games or so into his rookie season with the Spurs.

    by DHawes22 on 6/8/2012 9:13 AM
  2. That's right, Duck was from Eastern Illinois. Our starting five were mostly from small schools (save Clyde and Buck, although Houston and Maryland aren't top programs), but our bench went to more traditional powerhouses, like U Conn (Cliffy), Seton Hall (Mark Bryant), Duke (Abdelnaby), and Wake Forest (Danny Young). A team of gems!

    by petro4three on 6/8/2012 9:55 AM
  3. I like your blog but your missing a few big names, Clyde Drexler not mentioned one of 6 Blazers to ever be elected to the Hall of Fame also he was taken #14. Bill Walton the man responsible for our only NBA title and another member of the Hall of Fame even though he went #1 overall there were 2 other F/C taken in the top 4 compared to them he was a gem. Arvydas Sabonis should also be worthy of a honorable mention as he is also a Hall of Famer plus he was selected in the 20's.

    by cmeese47 on 6/8/2012 2:26 PM
  4. I thought about Drexler and Sabas, but hadn't considered Bill Walton. I wasn't convinced Clyde could be considered a "gem" since Houston was really good and well-known when he was there and Sabas took so long to get to Portland, I think in reduced what his contribution to the franchise could have been. Nevertheless, great names to consider.

    by petro4three on 6/8/2012 2:32 PM
  5. I think Z-Bo deserves honorable mention. He was the Most Improved Player and we got him pretty late in the first-round, #21 if I remember correctly. As for Walton? I don't see how he is a "hidden gem". He played under Coach Wooden at UCLA and was the clear-cut pick. Also, Drexler, for whatever reason slipped. Houston was thinking of taking him in the Top 10 with one of their two first round picks but passed on him. Plus he came from a program that had just came off consecutive Final Four appearances.

    by DHawes22 on 6/8/2012 2:57 PM
  6. I think if my list were a little longer Zach would have made it. I was unsure about first-rounders as "gems" and only included Terry Porter primarily because of "Wisconsin-Stevens Point"! I think Z-Bo came out after his freshman year which would have made him a little more of a risk and therefore a solid find considered what he turned out to be. I remember when he was playing behind Sheed when he was averaging like 17 and 8 and Coach Mo said, "If Z-Bo played 40 minutes a game he would be a 20-10 guy." I remember thinking, "Well...then..."

    by petro4three on 6/8/2012 3:06 PM
  7. TP was a great call. Even if he was a first rounder, how many teams can say their greatest point guard in franchise history was from an NAIA school and was taken LATE in the first round?

    by DHawes22 on 6/9/2012 3:51 PM
  8. Although TP was definitely a gem, I think basketball people may have known of him because he tried out for the Olympic team the year before and made the final 20 before being cut. That may have helped the Blazers because if he made the team he might have gotten drafted earlier. Nevertheless, NAIA! The only other player I can think of that was drafted in the first round out of an NAIA school was Scottie Pippen - and in the lottery, no less.

    by petro4three on 6/10/2012 6:42 AM
  9. You missed a few Dennis Rodman, Elgin Baylor, Sam Jones, and Earl Monroe all of which are in the Hall of Fame although only Rodman going #27 went as late a Porter.

    by cmeese47 on 6/11/2012 12:16 PM
  10. CMEESE47...the blog header says BLAZER'S draft day history...none of those guys were drafted by the Zers. Plus e Monroe was drafted 2nd overall.

    by army22 on 6/11/2012 1:03 PM
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