The Portland Trail Blazers were one of the last teams to experience the NBA lottery. From its establishment in 1985, the team didn’t become a lottery team until 2004.
Their late arrival led them to make up for lost time, as they would go on to be a lottery team for five consecutive seasons.
The team had a 0.60% chance of winning the lottery and ended up with the No. 13 pick. Having one of the last picks in the lottery led to the team selecting Sebastian Telfair.
His arrival to the team was coming off the heels of Telfair being one of the most lauded high school prospects in the country, with his popularity rivaling LeBron James’ the year prior.
The big difference is Telfair didn’t come close to the NBA success James would go on to. In two seasons with the team, he averaged 8.1 points and 3.5 assists.
Part of his lackluster play led to a conversation on the difficulty of judging high school players and knowing if they’re good enough for the league.
He would go on to play 11 seasons and became a nomad.
Already having Telfair on the roster, the Blazer didn’t think it was needed for them to be in the point guard sweepstakes for Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Raymond Felton.
The team decided to trade out of the pick and slid down to No. 6 where they picked Martell Webster No. 6 overall.
Webster became a solid role player in five seasons with the team but never was on the level of the players selected before him.
In hindsight, the Blazers could’ve had Williams. A guy who would go on to make multiple All-NBA and All-Star teams.
But no oversight is bigger than the team passing on Chris Paul. Inarguably one of the greatest point guards in league history and is the only player from that lottery still in the league.
Passing on Paul, Felton, and Williams showed the team’s belief in Telfair, despite him having an unimpressive rookie season compared to the hype he had.
Coming off a 21-61 season, the team had the greatest odds of obtaining the No. 1 pick. But of course, having the greatest odds doesn’t guarantee anything and the team slipped to No. 4.
The team selected Tyrus Thomas with their pick but ended up trading him to the Bulls, who drafted LaMarcus Aldridge with the No. 2 pick.
Their draft night dealing didn’t stop there. Through a series of trades with the Celtics and Timberwolves, the team acquired the No. 6 pick and selected Brandon Roy.
The 2006 draft in hindsight is one of the most important drafts in franchise history. On the same night, the team paired Aldridge and Roy together. The two would go on to make multiple All-NBA and All-Star teams.
Looking back at their draft mates, only Rajon Rondo and Kyle Lowry would achieve similar success as Aldridge and Roy.
Coming off a 32-50 season, Portland only held a 5.3% chance of obtaining the No. 1 pick.
But any odds are better than no odds and the team jumped six picks and won the lottery.
At the time there were only two answers: Greg Oden or Kevin Durant.
Pair Aldridge with a center down low or get Roy some perimeter help.
The team went with getting Aldridge some assistance, and then the unforeseen happened.
Oden would go to experience a litany of knee and foot issues derailing a promising career.
As for Durant, he’s one of the greatest players in league history. Having gone on to win a regular-season MVP and two Finals MVP awards.
Having barely missed the playoffs with a 41-41 record, the team had their lowest lottery odds since 2004. This time with good reasoning as they had Aldridge and Roy finishing their second season and Oden waiting in the wing.
The team ended up with the No. 13 pick and traded up to No. 11 with the Indiana Pacers. Portland selected Brandon Rush and shipped him to Indy for the draft rights to Jerryd Bayless.
Bayless seemed like the team’s future point guard but struggled to adapt to the NBA game. He would only spend two seasons with the team, averaging 6.8 points.
The Blazers would go four seasons without a lottery appearance as the duo of Aldridge and Roy thrived, but that came to an end following the 2011 season.
In their first season without Roy, the team fell to 28-38 in the lockout season, and Aldridge’s career-low 55 games at that point also made matters worse.
Entering the lottery the team held the 11th spot and ended the event with that pick.
What also helped the team is a previous trade with the Nets allowed them to own their pick which would be the No. 6 pick.
It seemed like the team's fortunes were turning for the better. Out was Roy and insert Damian Lillard with the sixth pick followed by Meyers Leonard with the 11th pick.
Lillard is a future Hall of Famer and Blazer legend. He’s a multi-time All-Star and All-NBA team member and was recently named to his first Olympic team.
As for Leonard, he became a solid role player with the team having spent seven seasons with Rip City.
Another season in the lottery after barely missing the playoffs.
The team was in the position to build off Lillard’s impressive rookie season and also make the most of Aldridge becoming one of the premier players in the league.
The 10th pick is where the team landed and once again nailed it.
CJ McCollum out of Lehigh was their selection. McCollum hasn’t made an All-Star or All-NBA team, but is one of the best scorers in the league, coming off a season averaging a career-high 23.1 points.
McCollum is currently one of the best players in the league to never make an All-Star team due to the crowded western conference but has averaged over 20 points the past six seasons.
As great as McCollum has been, one must wonder how often Blazers fans think about Giannis Antetokounmpo being selected three picks later?