All-time great PGs in PDX
It’s been said that the point guard position is the most important spot on an NBA court. The floor general is often times the quarterback of his team, and ranking a point guard’s value has to do with more than just stats – it has to do with leadership.
In Portland Trail Blazers‘ history, there have been a handful of players who have run the offense from the 1-spot and have made a name for themselves throughout their careers.
While today’s game is run by point guards, superstar players at that position were tougher to come by when big men ruled the league. It doesn’t take elite production to be recognized as one of the greats, and Portland has a few of those to celebrate as we take a trip down memory lane.
5. Damian Lillard
To some, placing Damian Lillard on this list is disrespectful to the players who came before him. He’s yet to prove he can have more than one good season, and there are a number of players who are well-deserving of the No. 5 spot.
Then again, others might claim that he’s already pushed himself closer to the top, seeing as how he became Portland’s fourth rookie of the year following the 2012-13 campaign.
At this point, we’ll take both sides into account, consider his historic first season a success and place him here with the expectation that he’ll climb the rankings throughout a solid NBA career.
4. Rod Strickland
Rod Strickland played for nine teams during his 17 years as an NBA point guard. Five of those came with Portland, and four of them were beyond memorable for fans in Rip City.
Between 1992 and 1996, Strickland ran the offense for the Blazers, and did an exceptional job at that. He averaged approimately 17.2 points and 8.7 assists.
His final season with the team came in 2000-01; a year in which he played just 21 games and averaged just 4.6 points and 3.4 assists.
Numbers aside, Strickland was the kind of player who could orchestrate an offense. His lightening-quick speed allowed him to get into the paint, and while he was perfectly capable of finishing in traffic, his court vision allowed him to set up his teammates when double teams would inevitably come his way.
3. Damon Stoudamire
When it came to Damon Stoudamire, fans in Rip City had to take the good with the bad.
At 5’10″ on a good day, “Mighty Mouse” might have been one of the most fun players to watch during his time in Portland. He played with an aggressiveness that was surprising considering his smaller-than-average stature, and he proved that he could score from virtually anywhere on the court on any given night.
The problem with Stoudamire, aside from subpar defensive performances, was what he brought to the table off the court. He was notoriously part of the Jail Blazers era that turned away so many fans, and he was caught more than once in possession of substances that were, let’s say, less than legal.
While Stoudamire’s time with the Blazers was a mixed bag of ups and downs, it’s safe to say that he left in 2005 with fans still on his side. The Wilson High School product (Portland, Ore.) will always be thought of as the local kid who finally came home, as well as the player who set a then-franchise record with 51 points in a single game.
2. Geoff Petrie
If we’re talking true point guards, Geoff Petrie doesn’t belong anywhere near this list. He was a pure scorer, he loved the long ball and he played alongside Rick Adelman, who was much more of a floor general in the traditional sense.
However, Petrie was a combo guard before that became an NBA cliche, and he began to take over more facilitating roles as his career progressed.
Petrie, the “original Trail Blazer” was the team’s first-ever draft pick in 1970. His career was shortened by knee injuries – a sad fate that many of his successors would have to endure – but his playing days started off with a bang, as he was named a co-Rookie of the Year in 1971.
He averaged 21.8 points and 4.6 assists during his time with the team, but the truth is, that number would have been higher if he played during the three-point era. He could hit from deep with the best in the league, and that helped him average better than 24 points per contest in three of his six years with the team.
1. Terry Porter
When Terry Porter left the Trail Blazers organization in the mid-90s, the organization was officially in search of a new franchise point guard. In 2012, the team finally found that player in Lillard, showing just how high the bar was set following the departure.
In 10 years with the team, Porter posted averages of 14.9 points, seven assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. In 1989 – arguably the best year of his career – he averaged 17.7 points, 9.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds.
Although constantly overshadowed by Clyde Drexler, Porter is a major reason the franchise made it to two NBA Finals appearances in the early-90s.
He is the all-time Trail Blazers leader in assists and three-pointers made, and he always pushed the tempo of one of the most exciting teams in the league at the time.
Porter’s No. 30 jersey is hanging in the Rose Garden rafters for a reason, as he’s arguably the best point guard to ever suit up in a Trail Blazers uniform.