Looking back at Trail Blazers history with the NBA Draft Lottery
Dame Time is coming to the NBA Draft Lottery.
At least, that's what the Portland Trail Blazers hope to see when the pingpong balls get picked at 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, in Chicago on ESPN.
The team announced superstar Damian Lillard would be the team's representative to the lottery. Well, Lillard's son Damian Jr. actually made the announcement on social media in a short but adorable video.
The lottery has been relatively neutral with Portland over the years, mostly because the Blazers haven't been in it often.
The lottery began in 1985, making this the 38th rendition of the drawing. But 2022 will only be the eighth time that Portland has needed to pay attention.
The Blazers' first time in the lottery came in 2004 when Portland finished the season in the 13 spot and didn't move in the lottery.
Portland returned in 2005 and went from the No. 4 spot to the No. 3 spot, which it ended up trading to Utah hours before the draft and took Martell Webster in the Jazz's No. 6 spot. Utah took Deron Williams.
Up next was 2006 when Portland finished with the worst record in the league, but dropped three spots in the lottery to the No. 4 pick. It's the only time the Blazers have moved down in the draft.
That didn't mean 2006 was quiet though. Portland picked Tyrus Thomas at No. 4 and traded him to Chicago for No. 2 pick LaMarcus Aldridge. The Blazers also worked a deal with Boston for No. 7 pick Randy Foye, and then shipped him off to Minnesota for No. 6 pick Brandon Roy.
There is plenty of precedent for Portland to see some action even if they don't move up in this 2022 draft lottery.
After missing out on the top spot in 2006, Portland went from the No. 7 spot to the top overall pick in 2007 and drafted Greg Oden out of Ohio State. It was the first time since 1978 that Portland picked first.
In that 1978 draft, Portland traded for the top choice from Indiana in order to grab Mychal Thompson. Portland picked No. 1 overall two other times, using it on Bill Walton in 1974 and on LaRue Martin in 1972.
Thanks to all the action from 2006 and 2007, Portland almost made it out of the lottery and into the playoffs in 2008 but not quite. It ended up 13th overall and stayed put in the lottery. The Blazers picked Brandon Rush and traded him to Indiana for Jerryd Bayless, the No. 11 pick.
Portland made the playoffs from 2009-2011 before the wheels came off on the Oden and Roy era in unfortunate circumstances. In 2012, the Blazers ended up with the No. 11 spot and didn't move in the lottery.
More importantly, the Blazers made a trade with the New Jersey Nets for their No. 6 overall pick, which also didn't change spots in the lottery. Portland used the Nets spot to draft Lillard and used their own 11 spot on Meyers Leonard.
Not every lottery pick is created equally.
Lillard was the Rookie of the Year the next season, but it wasn't quite enough to lift Portland out of the 2013 lottery. The Blazers ended up No. 10 and didn't move in the lottery, ultimately using the pick on CJ McCollum.
And, as they say, the rest was history as Portland made the playoffs from 2014-21 and didn't make any predraft trades to get into the lottery. The lone lottery pick appearance was in 2017 when Portland traded its No. 15 and 20 picks to Sacramento for No. 10 pick Zach Collins.
Add up the changes and Portland is a plus-4 over the seven draft lotteries it has been directly involved in. Four of the seven saw no change and most of that positive movement comes from the plus-6 change in 2007 landing the No. 1 spot from No. 7.
Portland has a 9% chance of that happening again in this lottery, and has a 37.2% chance to move into the top four. Of course, Portland could use the top three rated talents in the draft, but there is a steep drop after that.
Plus, the Blazers are in a bit of a strange spot. They're better than their lottery odds suggest thanks to Lillard, but are certainly in need of pieces to make them a title contender.
Does newly official general manager Joe Cronin trade the pick if it moves up into the top four for a proven veteran? Or does Portland use it on a top talent?
Do the Blazers fall back in the draft and go with what's left of the pool? Or do they try to swap that pick for a not-so-proven veteran?
The point is, the offseason is sure to be an eventful one as Portland tries to build around Lillard for one final push during the prime of his career.
And the first step comes with what the pingpong balls bring on Tuesday.
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