The Portland Trail Blazers locked in the seventh pick in last week’s draft lottery, a far cry from the cream of this year’s class.
Now, Blazer fans now have to resign themselves to the fact that General Manager Joe Cronin will be using the mid-lottery pick as his primary asset in improving the roster.
But while the pick is not where we’d all hoped it would be, let’s push forward and look back at what kind of talent the pick has yielded over the past 25 years.
Below are the top seven seventh picks of the past 27 years.
1. Stephen Curry, 2009, Davidson
You might have heard of him. Little guy, plays for the Warriors, can shoot the ball a long way etc etc Anyway, his entrance into the NBA wasn’t surrounded with a 10th of the fanfare that follows him today.
Sure he was the son of another brilliant shooter, but clearly that wasn’t enough for teams at the top of the lottery to call his name. The Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder still got passing grades that year taking Blake Griffin and James Harden respectively.
But when the Timberwolves own the fifth and the sixth picks and decide to select Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn, questions need to be asked.
Curry has gone on to become a three-time (potentially four-time) champion, two-time MVP, eight-time All Star, four-time All NBA first team, top 75 player of all time, oh, and almost single- handedly changed the way the modern game is played.
He’s averaged 24.3 points on 42 percent three point shooting and 90 percent from the charity stripe, to go with 4.6 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.7 steals.
2. Richard “Rip” Hamilton, 1999, UConn
Hamilton shared the Detroit Pistons 2004 championship with backcourt mate and now Portland Head Coach Chauncey Billups.
Initially taken by the Washington Wizards — behind Elton Brand, Steve Francis, Baron Davis, Lamar Odom and Wally Szczerbiak — he was traded to the Pistons three years later in a deal involving Jerry Stackhouse.
Within 21 months he was an NBA champion starting alongside Billups before going on to earn three consecutive All Star selections between 2006 and 2008 before finishing his career with the Chicago Bulls.
Hamilton ended his career with averages of 17.1 points on 34 percent three point shooting, 3.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists.
3. Luol Deng, 2004, Duke
Many might remember Deng as holding one of the ugliest contracts of his time before he called quits on his career. But before that he was a key member of a Bulls franchise loaded with talent, only ever fingertips away from contending — Derrick Rose’s body tended to get in the way.
Deng was the ultimate small forward, able to do a little of everything while fitting seamlessly alongside Rose, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah while securing All Star nods in 2012 and 2013.
After a decade in Illinois, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum, before a two year stint with the Miami Heat. In 2016, he signed a four year, $72 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers but it wasn’t long before he was making way for younger prospect Brandon Ingram. Deng signed a relatively inconsequential deal with the Timberwolves in 2018 after his then exorbitant Lakers deal had been bought out.
The Sudanese-born swingman averaged 14.8 points on 33 percent three point shooting, 6.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists.
4. Jamal Murray, 2016, Kentucky
The most recent of our draftees, Murray is unfortunately recovering from a knee injury that saw him miss the entire 2021-22 season. But he does have the potential to jump both Hamilton and Deng by the time his career ends.
When it comes to the 25-year-old is the Denver Nuggets’ genuine second banana behind their two-time reigning MVP. The Canadian has the ability to be a premier point guard and while he’s yet to taste All Star glory, Murray is almost certain to get there if he’s able to return to his pre-injury form.
Through five seasons, he’s put up 16.3 points on 36 percent three point shooting, 3.6 boards, 3.8 assists and 1.3 steals.
5. Julius Randle, 2014, Kentucky
Socially has a player garnered so much divisive opinion. Yes, Randle was a 2021 All Star and, yes, he certainly deserved it. But outside that season, we’re still not sure what impact the power forward has and will have on this league. From his early days with the Lakers, a year with the New Orleans Pelicans and his most recent stint with the New York Knicks, Randle has been there, doing stuff.
Is he a real star? Was 2020-21 an anomaly? The jury is out. The thing I will say is that with his size and ability, Randle would no doubt be able to return to the annual February showcase every year if he could put it all together consistently.
Career averages include 17.7 points on 33 percent three point shooting, 9.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
6. Harrison Barnes, 2012, North Carolina
Selected one spot after Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, Barnes soon became the fourth option on dynasty-level franchise. Not a bad place to be. But in order to make room for Kevin Durant, Barnes was set free to sign with the Dallas Mavericks where he was able to better highlight his ability without the blur of Curry, Thompson and Green in front of him.
For some reason, he loves stepping up against the Blazers, we only need to go back to opening night seven months ago, where he hit eight of 11 from long range as a member of the Sacramento Kings. At 29, he’s still a viable NBA player and someone I’ve always been curious about contributing to the Blazers. He’s now a power forward who can play minimally at the three — the opposite to how he started his career.
Throughout his career, Barnes has averaged 14.1 points on just under 38 percent three point shooting, 5.1 boards and 1.8 assists.
7. Eric Gordon, 2008, Indiana
The 2017 Sixth Man of the Year could have been higher on this list if injury hadn’t cruelled him early on. We mustn’t forget that Gordon was one of the prizes for the New Orleans Hornets in the deal that saw Chris Paul become a Clipper.
With the Houston Rockets, Gordon became a reliable source of points off the bench behind James Harden during the good years. More recently his become a veteran mentor off that same bench for the rebuilding Rockets.
He’s averaged 16.4 points on 37 percent three point shooting, 2.4 boards and 2.8 assists.
Damon Stoudamire (1995), Nene Hilario (2002), Greg Monroe (2010), Jason Williams (1998), Kirk Hinrich (2003)
Each draft class is different with varying depths of talent. Portland comes into this draft with the seventh pick in a class where there are four clear difference making players and a list of “nice”, “interesting”, “talented” and “raw” prospects we are yet to know how will pan out.
The chances of landing a Steph Curry-type player with the seventh pick is minuscule. However, if the Blazers choose to execute the selection, there’s every chance they could snare a Jamal Murray, Luol Deng or Harrison Barnes level talent.
We just need to remember that with Damian Lillard wanting to compete now, the room for error is incredible small. So Cronin might will almost certainly have better odds of immediate success by trading the pick for proven talent.