A punch to the balls and a drawn knife were the only reasons the Portland Trail Blazers stopped themselves from getting an all-time great.
That was probably the most bizarre opening sentence to any article you’ve read. But it’s true.
The Trail Blazers were awarded the 3rd overall pick in the 2005 draft after winning 27 games throughout the 2004-05 season. Unfortunately for them, this was one of the worst draft classes of all time. Somehow, Chris Paul wasn’t drafted by the Bucks or Hawks, the two teams that were granted the top 2 picks of this draft.
But still, the Blazers were at a crossroad, with three paths.
They could have taken path one and selected Chris Paul, which was a stable path littered with treasures along the way. Path two was also a reasonable option. If they took Deron Williams with that pick, they probably would not have found any treasure, but it would’ve been a risk-free way to go.
Instead, they took the most treacherous of the three paths. They traded the 3rd pick to Utah for the 6th pick, the 27th pick, and a 2006 first-round pick.
Utah selected Deron Williams, and Chris Paul fell to the New Orleans Hornets and became a four-time all-star before being traded to Los Angeles.
But why did the Blazers take path three?
Because they wanted a player that would be a good man in the community and a great person off the court. So they traded down to get Martell Webster, who fit that mold to a T. This quote from DraftExpress says it the best:
“He interacts well with his teammates and he seems to be a well spoken kid. He plays unselfishly and appears to be pretty mature for his age while carrying himself well on the court. He also supposedly has a very good work ethic.”
Whereas Chris Paul, just four months earlier, had gotten himself caught for slamming Julius Hodge right where it counts in-game. There was also a story Paul’s brother CJ shared a story about Chris pulling a knife on him “all out of love.”
Those two instances were more than enough to convince the Blazers to stay far away from CP3, but this turned out to be pretty ironic. Paul proved that he was only extremely tenacious on the basketball floor, and he’s done a great deal for the people of the cities he has played in. He’s also the president of the NBA Player’s Association.
If not for some luck in the next few drafts, I do not doubt that the Blazers decade after this blunder would have been pretty atrocious.
This story, like many others, proves just what a crapshoot the NBA Draft is.