Portland Trail Blazers have drafted 133 players since the team was founded in 1970. The overall impression is that Blazers have made some horrible mistakes while making the picks; some of the draft choices are considered as the biggest busts in draft history.
Just imagine how different the team history would have been if they had picked Michael Jordan in 1984. Blazers selected Sam Bowie over MJ as a second choice in the first round. Bowie’s career was cut short by many injuries. Likewise, injuries heavily affected the career of a first overall draft pick from the 2007 NBA class. Blazers passed on Kevin Durant to select Greg Oden, who was then a dominant college center. Steve Kerr described him as “once-in-a-decade player”. Due to injuries, Oden failed to fulfill high expectations.
However, Portland made a great draft choice at the 1986 draft. That year the team had 4 picks, two in the first round and two in the later stages of the draft. Argumentation behind the choices was great. However, the realization of this plan did not go as expected. In the first round Blazers selected Walter Berry and Arvydas Sabonis. In the second round, their choice was Panagiotis Fasoulas. In the third round, the Blazers selected Dražen Petrović. Sabonis, Fasoulas, and Petrović were one of the best international players at the time. Bringing them together to the NBA would have been great for the development of the league’s popularity around the globe, especially in Europe.
Berry quickly demanded a trade and played only 7 games for Portland. Blazers got Kevin Duckworth from the trade with the Spurs. Fasoulis, a dominant Greek international center, never decided to play in the NBA. The remaining duo, Sabonis and Petrović, were the best players in Europe at the time, seeing them play together would be perfect for all basketball lovers. Dražen was a sharpshooter who could easily dribble past any opponent with his perfect ballhandling. Arvydas was a dominant center with great scoring and passing ability.
However, they never played together. Mostly due to the political reasons they did not go to the NBA immediately. Petrović went to the NBA in 1989, after two seasons and little playing time with the Blazers, he went to New Jersey, where he established himself as one of the best international players in the league. Sadly, Petrović died in a car accident in 1993, aged just 28. Sabonis entered in the league in 1995 at the age of 31. Sabonis spent his entire NBA career (8 years) with Portland.
With Petrović and Sabonis on the roster, Portland would have had a bigger chance at winning the championship rings in 1990 and 1992. However, we can only imagine and dream what could have been, if they had played together in the league.