The Portland Trail Blazers Are Smarter Than Most

Updated: December 3, 2013
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Professional sports teams that have smart personnel in their front office are the envy of terrible management. Not only is smart personnel the envy of terrible management, but they are also the envy of rival sports fans. Let me give an example. The Brooklyn Nets are the team I root for…you can stop laughing now. 

In the 2011-2012 NBA season, New Jersey Nets general manager Billy King traded away the Nets first round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft to the Portland Trail Blazers for Gerald Wallace. The draft pick the Trailblazers acquired from the Nets ended up being Weber State University point guard Damian Lillard. 

In the 2012-2013 season, Damian Lillard averaged 19 points, 6.5 assist and 3 rebounds per game for the Trailblazers, and he went on to win NBA Rookie of the Year. It was a great rookie season for Damian Lillard, and the Portland Trailblazers had found their corner-stone point guard of the future. 

The Nets on the other hand acquired a player on the decline of his career, and in the 2012 season Gerald Wallace averaged 7.7 points, 2.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds a game. To add insult to injury, the Nets signed Wallace to a 4-year $40 million dollar deal. 

A year later, Gerald Wallace is currently plying his trade in Boston with the Celtics, the Brooklyn Nets are 5-12, the Nets actual point guard Deron Williams looks like a shell of himself in the second year of 5-year 98 million dollar contract, and head coach Jason Kidd and Billy King are probably a few more losses away from losing his job; while the Portland Trailblazers are 13-3 and their head coach Terry Stotts was just named Western Conference coach of the month. Yes, I’m one of the envious fans of a smartly run sports team. 

That is the difference a franchise that wants to make a big splash and win now, as opposed to a franchise that see the bigger picture and wants to compete for years down the line; competence. Although the Blazers run a competent organization, they’ve been both extremely unlucky, and very fortunate the past five seasons in the NBA. 

The Blazers lost all-star shooting guard Brandon Roy to a debilitating knee injuries, and got all of 82 games in two seasons out of their 2007 number one overall draft pick Greg Oden. The sad part about that 2007 NBA Draft was the player selected right after Greg Oden was Kevin Durant. Duran is currently the second best player in the NBA, and an absolute scoring machine.

Unfortunately in pro sports those are the breaks. But instead of letting this derail them for years to come, the Blazers kept their composure and did what all smart franchises do, rebuild through the draft and pick the right players. 

Not only do the Trailblazers have their star point guard for the foreseeable future in Damian Lillard, they also have a stud power forward named Lamarcus Aldridge who is also an all-star. The Trailblazers did not select Aldridge in the 2006 NBA draft, but they acquired his draft rights in a trade with the Chicago Bulls. Aldridge has made the All-Star team two seasons in a row, and at just 28 years old he is at the peak of his powers and getting better every game.


The third piece to this puzzle is French small forward Nicolas Batum. Acquiring Batum was another savvy business move by the Portland Trailblazers front office. The Blazers traded away draft pick Joey Dorsey to the Houston Rockets for Nicolas Batum in 2008. In four seasons with three different teams, Joey Dorsey played 61 games and averaged 2.6 points and 3.8 rebounds for his career. 

Batum has played 346 games with the Blazers, and so far this season is averaging 13.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.1 assist per game. He would be the first option on a lot of bad teams in the NBA with those numbers; on the Blazers he’s their third best player. Batum is another homerun by Blazers management.


Signing the right free agents and drafting the right players are the keys to success in this league, and the Blazers have drafted the right players on a regular basis. Unfortunately life happens, and the Trailblazers did not get what they bargained for with the injuries to Brandon Roy and Greg Oden.

Regardless of what happened to Roy and Oden, the Blazers never made any huge free agent panic buys, and always had a plan in mind. The plan was to build a contender from the ground up and let the players grow together. The plan looks to be working to full effect this season. 

Last night the Blazers beat an Indiana Pacers team that not only has it’s own great player, Paul George, but also the best record in the NBA. It was a great win for a young Blazers team, couple that with their current 13-3 record and you have one of the best teams in the NBA. If all the Knicks, Nets and other dysfunctional franchises of the world can learn one thing from the Portland Trailblazers, it should be one important thing- star power doesn’t always guarantee success. Brains do.

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