Trail Blazers

Perspective: Neil Olshey's draft history

Trail Blazers

The Blazers and Neil Olshey are on the clock to find difference markers to pair alongside Damian Lillard and hopefully CJ McCollum.

Searching for that hopeful missing piece begins at the NBA Draft, and for Portland, that starts with GM Neil Olshey.

Here’s a look back at Olshey’s past performances in the draft.


 Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]


The team had originally selected Isaiah Stewart with the No. 16 pick, only to flip him, Trevor Ariza, and their 2021 first-rounder for Robert Covington.

With the No. 46 pick in the 2020 draft, the team decided to select Washington State’s C.J. Elleby.

During his rookie season, he didn't have much of an opportunity to showcase his talents. Only playing in 30 games, averaging 6.4 minutes.

What he could become is unknown, but he’ll likely be on their Summer League roster to show why the team used a draft pick on him.



Nassir Little was one of the more interesting prospects in his class. He wasn’t a great scorer in his lone season at North Carolina, but many scouts felt he had great potential.

The Blazers felt the same and used their No. 25 pick to select him. During the process comparisons to NBA veterans were thrown out for Little -- Jaylen Brown, Gerald Wallace, and Thaddeus Young to name a few.

In two seasons with the Blazers, Little would play sporadically. He hasn’t shown what would really be his niche in the league but has brought athleticism, defense, and effort to the team.

He’s averaging 12.6 minutes in two seasons in Portland.


Anfernee Simons was an interesting prospect back in 2018. More so because he was able to buck college and immediately enter the draft.

Holding their own pick, the Blazers selected Simons at No. 24.

After a rookie season in which he received scant minutes, Simons’ role evolved in his sophomore season to over 20 minutes per game and remained a player in their rotation in season three.

He’s a scoring guard that’s provided solid defense for the team when called upon.


One of the few times the Blazers had three first-round picks. A clear opportunity to hopefully find a contributor to the team.

With those picks, the team selected Justin Jackson (No. 15), Harry Giles (No. 20), and Caleb Swanigan (No. 26)

At the time, both Jackson and Giles were dealt to Sacramento in return for Zach Collins. The trade proved to be fruitful for Portland as Collins has proven to be a contributor when healthy.

As for Jackson, he’s a role player in the league, depending on the team. As for Swanigan, he’s no longer in the league.

Then there’s Giles, who found his way back to the Blazers. At the time Giles was one of the more interesting prospects because he was one of the top high school players entering his college season but has had his career derailed by injuries.



The team selected Rondae Hollis-Jefferson No. 23 overall and subsequently dealt him to the Nets for Mason Plumlee and Pat Connaughton.

It took Connaughton three seasons to crack the Blazers rotation and when he did he appeared in each game that season.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t re-signed and joined the Bucks. In three seasons with them he’s made the Eastern Conference Finals twice and just won an NBA Championship he was a contributor on.


One of the more impactful Blazers' drafts saw them select borderline All-Star CJ McCollum in the first-round with the No. 10 pick. Some of their second-round selections included Jeff Withey, Grant Jerrett, and Marko Todorović.

Jerrett only lasted one season in the league, Todorović is still overseas and Withey lasted five seasons.

McCollum is one of the best players in Blazers history and has been a cornerstone for the franchise since his selection with Damian Lillard.


The draft that literally changed the Blazers. Courtesy of trading Gerald Wallace to the Nets and taking on Mehmet Okur and Shawne Williams the Blazers also got their lottery pick.

That pick turned into Damian Lillard. One of the best players in the league today, maybe the greatest Blazer, and a future Hall of Famer.

On that night Portland also selected Meyers Leonard No. 11 overall followed by Will Barton and Tyshawn Taylor in the second-round. Taylor would go on to be dealt to Brooklyn.

Come opening night the Blazers had Lillard, Barton, and Leonard. Probably the best draft Olshey has had.

Barton has turned into a starter on a contending team with the Nuggets. As for Leonard, he was a reliable role player with the Blazers and was even a starter in his first season with the Heat before finding his way out of the league.


It can sometimes be hard to figure out how and if a college or international player will translate into the NBA. That’s what makes drafting so difficult. 


Eight players on the 2020-'21 Blazers were drafted by the team. Six of them have played their whole career with the team.

For Olshey, he’s historically grown a track record of drafting well each year.