The Blazers have had fifty eight power forwards, including 31 who were starters during their time in Portland. Several of them also spent time at center, but predominately played at the four. Power forward has been one of Portland’s stronger positions throughout the years, though perhaps not recently. Sixteen Trail Blazers have been selected as All Stars (42 selections total) and six of those selections were power forwards. From bruisers to rebound kings, to high rolling scorers, Portland had a bit of it all at the four.
Here is the list of the top 10 power forwards in Blazers history.
10. Brian Grant
(1997-00) 3 Seasons
10.2 ppg, 8 rpg, 1.3 apg (WS 15.7, PER 16 TS% .558)
1994-95 NBA All Rookie First Team 1995
Of players dedicated to their work on the court, Grant’s ethic was unmatched. He outworked everyone around him. His energy and determination provided a solid foundation for his play. He was a a fierce and dynamic force on the defensive end of the floor. At 6’9 he lacked some height in the paint, but he never let it stop him. He ate rebounds for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
He was super glue in Portland, and was there for the late nineties – early naughts run for the Championship. He was on a team full of talent, perhaps too much. He was there for the infamous 00 WCF’s, where the Blazers came back to force seven games against the Lakers only to lose in that mind boggling series closing fourth quarter. It was the day Basketball died. (Well, for Blazers fans anyway)
Grant was moved before the next season, traded to Miami, in one of the worst moves the Blazers have ever made. It is a shame we couldn’t have seen that team go at it for another year, to allow the chemistry to mesh a bit more. Perhaps egos would have given away to a better unity, allowing the Blazers to win it all. We shall never know. We do know Grant was a fighter in all his days with the Blazers, and is a fighter today, as he battles Parkinson’s disease. If his war with Parkinson’s is anything like the war he waged on the courts of the Rose Garden, then that disease is in big trouble.
9. Lloyd Neal
(1972-1979) 7 Seasons
11.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.5 apg (WS 22.7 PER 15.4, TS% .519)
NBA Champion: 1977 Blazers
NBA All Rookie 1st Team 1973 Blazers
#36 retired by Blazers
Neal played his entire seven year career in Portland, and was part of the championship team in 1977. His rookie year he averaged 13.4 points and 11.8 rebounds(including a 33 point, 22 rebound performance against the 76ers) and made the NBA All Rookie 1st team. He was known for the painstakingly hard work he put in and the energy he brought to the game. He played in all but 2 games his first three seasons. In the next three seasons, he averaged 62 games. Neal played only four games in his 7th and final season with the team. His career was ultimately cut short because of a nagging knee injury (a continuation of the Blazers center curse?) But, he remains one of Portland’s best big men.
8. Kenny Carr
(1982-1987) 5 Seasons
11.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.5 apg (WS 20, PER 14.5, TS% .569)
Carr possessed a tenacious and ebullient worth ethic. When he came, he came to play. That was who he was on the court and off. It was wired into his personality. Carr was a highly energetic player. He had the heart and he had the motor. He played with an aggressive passion and it was contagious. His teammates fed off of it, and it made them better, just to be around him.
He won a gold medal with team USA in the 1976 Olympics, one of only 10 Blazers to do so. He was drafted by the Lakers and played for 5 seasons in the NBA before he made it to Portland. He belonged in Rip City, and retired here, playing five seasons for the Blazers. Unlike many other players who make it to Portland towards the end of their journey, their best playing days behind them, Carr still had some of the best playing days of his career in store. He helped Portland to four winning seasons and five playoff appearances, including two semi finals.
Kenny Carr is now the owner of Carr Construction.
7. Zach Randolph
(2001-07) 6 Seasons
16 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.5 apg (WS 22.4 PER 19.5, TS% .466)
2X All Star (2010, 2013)
All NBA Third Team 2011
NBA Most Improved Player 2004
Zach Randolph one of the last Blazers players to unfortunately be dubbed a Jail Blazer, was drafted by the Blazers in 2001 and entered his career in the NBA in an era of Portland Basketball that hurt more than helped him. While there was good influence, there was also bad. It was the latter that drew in Randolph. He was like a plant trying to grow in a shaded room. That’s not to say he didn’t play well in Portland, as remains one of the Blazers best power forwards. It is to say, he had the potential to be even better. As it is, he was damned good player. He had one of the best post games of Blazers big men.
His best season in Portland was his last, in which he averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds a game. He scored a career high 43 points that year, ironically against the Memphis Grizzlies, who he would later play for, and where he would become an All Star. A bit of experience and cultivation go a long way.
6. Clifford Robinson
(1989-97) 8 Seasons
16.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.1 bpg (WS 46.8 PER 15.6, TS% .513)
1X NBA All Star 1994
2X NBA All Defensive Second Team (2000, 2002)
NBA Sixth Man of the Year 1993
One of the most versatile players to don a Blazers jersey, the 6’10 Robinson played in three different positions for Portland, based on need. But, really he was a power forward. He could do it all, run the floor, score at the basket, block shots, rebound like nobodies business, etc etc. He was a virtual renaissance man on the court.
He fell to the Blazers in the 2nd rnd of the 1989 draft, wrapped and tied in a bow. Other teams passed on him because they rushed to judgment against his personality. But, hey let’s thank those rumors and the dimwit GMs that believed them, because it netted Portland one of the best forwards in its franchise history.
In his first season he was the second leading scorer and the Blazers made it to the finals only to be defeated by the Pistons. In his second season, the Blazers made their second WCF appearance. In his third season, the Blazers again made the finals to lose to Michael Jordan’s Bulls. His fourth through seventh seasons, he was up at twenty points per game. He had a career high of forty points during the 1992-93 seasons against the Jazz. He was named the Blazers first and so far only sixth man of the year in 1993 and became the Blazers 12th All Star.
5. Buck Williams
(1989-94) 5 Seasons
10.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.1 spg (WS 50.4 PER 13.7, TS% .592)
3X All Star (1982, 1983, 1986)
All NBA 2nd Team 1983
2X NBA All Defensive First Team (1990, 1991)
2X NBA All Defensive Second Team (1988, 1992)
NBA Rookie of the Year 1982
NBA All Rookie First Team 1982
Buck Williams was selected to Team USA 1980, but never got to play in the Olympics because the boycott against Russia. It is a shame because there is a good chance he would be among the ten other Blazers players who have received a gold medal. Williams was drafted by the Nets and played 8 seasons there before being traded to Portland for Sam Bowie. While it hurt to see Bowie go, no pun intended, Buck Williams was an elite power forward.
Williams was known for his astounding ability to rebound. He always seemed hungry for the boards, and averaged around 10 a game throughout his career. He is fourth in both offensive and defensive rebounds all time for the Blazers, and 5th in rebounds overall. He held the other side of the coin too, and remains 6th all time in Blazer field goal percentage with .550. He has the best true shooting percentage of any Blazers power forward at .594%.
He scored a franchise high 26 points to go with 20 rebounds against the Orlando Magic in his first season as a Blazer. In his first three seasons, he helped lead Portland to three straight western conference final appearances and 2 finals appearances. Buck Williams complimented Drexler and Porter well, on a team that also had Jerome Kersey and Clifford Robinson. They didn’t lose for a lack of talent, that’s for sure.
Williams served as an assistant coach under Nate McMillan.
4. Sidney Wicks
(1971-76) 5 Seasons
22.3 ppg 10.3 rebounds, 4.1 apg (61.3 WS, 18.9 PER, TS% .507)
NBA Rookie of the Year 1971-72
4X All Star (1972, 1973, 1974, 1975)
NBA All Rookie First Team 1972
Wicks, The Blazers first star power forward, was a already a star in college where he won three back to back championships with UCLA. He was named the Most Outstanding player of the final four in 1970. He was drafted by Portland, who bought the pick from Cleveland (what the hell were they thinking) and was a star as soon as he hit the court as a Blazer.
He paired perfectly with Blazers shooting guard Geoff Petrie, and could have made the run for a championship had they put a few better players around them. Wick averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds his rookie season. He scored a career high 38 points, three times, twice in his second season, and once in his third. He still holds the Blazers record in rebounds in a game, with 27.
Wicks finds himself on several of the Blazers all time record lists, including 1st in minutes played, 2nd in rebounding, and third in points per game. He set the bar high for Portland’s power forwards to come, and remains the cream of the crop.
3. Rasheed Wallace
(1996-2004) 8 Seasons
16.8 ppg, 7rpg, 2 apg, 1.3 bpg (61.3 WS, 18.2 PER, TS% .555)
4X NBA All Star(2000. 2001. 2006, 2008)
NBA Champion 2004 Pistons
NBA All Rookie Second Team 1996
Rasheed Wallace is perhaps one of the best big men to play the game. He was born to play basketball. He had so much potential and talent, but it was wasted at the hands of his emotions. He wore his heart on his sleeve, especially when it came to interactions with officials, who he thought were terribly unfair to him. If they were, he made it easy for them. He argued every call, and it earned him an infamous record. The most technical fouls in a season, with 41. If he could have just set aside the drama, we may have seen him at his best. He somehow made it work in Detroit.
As it is, he remains the second highest Blazers power forward in win shares at 61, and the 5th overall in the history of the franchise. He led Portland to seven straight playoff appearances, including two back to back western conference finals appearance, where the Blazers lost to the Spurs and the Lakers respectively. But, as Rasheed said, “both teams played hard..”
He was traded to the Hawks after 8 seasons with the Blazers, and then rerouted to the Pistons, who went on to win the championship that post season. That hurts. Still, Wallace carved a place for him self in the echelons of Portland’s Power Forwards.
2. LaMarcus Aldridge
(2006-15) 9 Seasons
19.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1 bpg ( 69.4 WS, 20.3 PER, TS% .532)
7X All Star (2012-16, 2018, 2019)
2X All NBA Second Team (2015, 2018)
3X All NBA Third Team (2011, 214, 2016)
NBA All Rookie First Team 2007
Aldridge, though one of the least liked Blazers these days, is still without doubt one of the best power forwards to wear Portland’s colors. He has the highest win share of any Blazers big man (69), and sits in third all time in that category, behind only Drexler and Porter. He played in Portland for nine years, the longest tenure of any starting power forward.
While many will remember him for walking away into the sunset, without looking back, after swearing to the fans, that he would remain “a Blazer for life,” he did have one the best careers of Blazers power forwards to date. He still owns two all time records, defensive rebounds and total rebounds, with 3698 and 5434 respectively. He is second in four field goal records behind only Clyde Drexler. His franchise high in points was 44, which came in his second to last season with Portland, in a win against the Nuggets (His career high is 56, which he scored this season with the Spurs) In his last five seasons with the Blazers he averaged 20+ points a game. In his last two seasons he averaged a double double.
Aldridge was perhaps one of if not the best shooters from the Elbow of Portland’s power forwards, but his mid-range jumper was also one of his weaknesses. He relied to much on the shot, and never focused enough on his post game. He lacked the willingness to bring his game to the highest level. There was an existential fragility about him. That said, he was still a star in his own right. He did a bit of it all, scoring, rebounding, blocking shots. He was an All Star his last four seasons with the Blazers. He helped lead Portland to five playoff appearances including a trip to the semi finals.
It is hard to be contented with with LaMarcus Aldridge and his place on this list. There remains a lingering disappointment among fans, in the way his career ended in Portland. But, absent and regardless of emotion, Aldridge is one of the elite power forwards in Blazers franchise history, like it or not.
1. Maurice Lucas
(1976-80, 1987-88) 5 Seasons
15.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.5 apg ( WS 23.6, 16.7 PER, TS% .508)
Champion 1977 Portland
4X NBA All Star (1977-79, 1983)
All NBA Second Team 1978
NBA All Defensive First Team 1978
NBA All Defensive 2nd Team 1979
Maurice Lucas, dubbed “The Enforcer” due to his fierce and aggressive predisposition to impose his will in the paint, remains one of Portland’s most dominate big men. He was the Blazers intimidator, a force to be reckoned with. The bruiser of bruisers. He would pull down rebounds with greatest authority and knock opposing players down like bowling pins in the process.
During that 1976-77 season, Lucas averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds a game ( His career high of 41 points came that year) and more or less carried those numbers into the playoffs, to lead the Blazers to their one and only Championship. Where Bill Walton was the leader and the swiss army knife, Lucas was the brawn. Where Walton was the fire that lit the fuse, Lucas was the dynamite. Ironically, Lucas was a gentle guy outside the game, but when he was on the court, there was no equal for him. Bill Walton once called him, “the greatest Blazer of all time”, and with that, I call him, the greatest Blazers power forward of all time. Lucas embodied all of what it means to be a Trail Blazer. The heart, the passion for the game, the physical innovation to the position. He did more then leave a mark, he tore one out.
Trading O’Neal will always be one of Portland’s greatest mistakes. Taking his career in it’s entirety into count, he should be on this list. He only averaged 3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds with Portland in 4 seasons of play. His talented and potential were buried on the Portland’ s bench. He was played sparingly and forgotten because of his youth. When he did play, it was mostly at power forward, though later in his career he played at the center position.
The Blazers traded him for Dale Davis and he became a star in Indiana. With the Pacers he was voted as an All Star 6 of out of 8 Seasons, and All NBA 3 of those seasons. He developed into a juggernaut on both ends of the floor, while the elder Davis gave Portland the last of what he had in the tank. O’Neal deserves the recognition he never got during his time in Portland. He’ll get it here.
While it could be argued that Abdur-Rahim should be up around 9 or 10 on the list, he was only in Portland for 2 seasons, after being acquired in the trade for Rasheed Wallace, along with Theo Ratliff, and Dan Dickau. He could easily be included in the top 10 Small Forward list, as he played at the three a good portion of his career. In his first year in Portland, he came mid season and only played in 32 games. He played 54 games in his second and final season in Portland averaging 16 points and 6 rebounds a game. He reached a franchise high 27 points twice in one month. Before Portland, in Atlanta and Vancouver (Grizzlies), he averaged 20 points a game to go with about 9 rebounds. He was a two time All Star and an Olympic Gold Medallist. The Blazers were looking to go young after the 2004-05 seasons and rebuild, so they let him walk away after failing to trade him to the Nets.
The Shawn Kemp who came to Portland, was far gone from the one who had played in Seattle and Cleveland. His elite athleticism and his stamina were consumed by his issues with weight. He was tortured by a food and drug addiction that continued to strip away any ability that was left. He lasted 2 seasons in Portland, starting in eight games, and averaging 6.3 points and 3.8 rebounds. That is a far cry from the 20 points and 10 rebounds he was averaging just two seasons earlier.
Picture – Oregonlive.com