Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 7/16/13
PDX Mad Man Neil Olshey came to the Portland Trail Blazers after quite some time with the Los Angeles Clippers, watching that team go from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs. Similar to his tenure with the Clippers, Olshey was greeted in Portland by a complete mess. The Blazers had been inefficient in recent years, fans were beginning to mock the team, and they weren’t being respected by their NBA counterparts. Olshey seemingly changed all of that in just over a year. Now there aren’t many GM’s in the league who could have completely revamped an organization in just one year, but Portland seems to have gotten lucky with Olshey. Coming to the Blazers right before the 2012 NBA Draft, he executed an amazing draft strategy that saw Portland snag Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard. While Leonard still has to develop into a more intimidating big man, all Lillard did this year was be unanimously named the Rookie of the Year. He joined Blake Griffin, David Robinson, and Ralph Sampson to unanimously win the award. Olshey has been outstanding in year one. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) Aside from the two high draft picks, Olshey also got great talent in the second round, selecting Will Barton, a player with a lot of potential who didn’t see that many minutes in 2012-2013. Earning high accolades for his first draft, Olshey then went into free agency with a fire in his eyes. Though he missed on Roy Hibbert, he managed to help secure JJ Hickson, retained Nicolas Batum, and secured several veterans and rights to players who could have been extremely valuable to the future of Portland. While some of these assets have left/been traded away, Olshey appears to have the knowledge and poise to build a successful basketball organization that will see itself be perennial contenders. That may have even occurred this year, too, had Olshey been willing to trade some valuable future assets to other teams that were more than interested. He did not do so, however, as he valued the future potential of his team more than a short term, one-and-done season. I definitely like the way this guy thinks. Though they did miss out on the playoffs, the Blazers’ organization has been putting together quite the offseason already, especially with the combination of the 2013 NBA Draft and free agency. Like they did in the 2012 draft, Portland and Olshey selected a player from a lesser known school with a high pick. C.J. McCollum, who figures to be the third guard for the Blazers, was drafted with the 10th overall pick and could be an impact man in the future. Also securing Allen Crabbe in the draft, Portland then made waves in free agency. Trading two future second-round picks to Houston and the rights to two Greek players, Olshey brought in Thomas Robinson, the fifth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He’ll need to find his form again, but this player still has all the potential to dominate the NBA. Olshey didn’t stop at Robinson either, as he and Portland managed to sign Dorell Wright and Earl Watson while taking part in a three-team trade that saw them acquire Robin Lopez and Terrel Harris. The Blazers’ bench that everybody was mocking last year appears, at least now, to be one of the deepest in the league. Olshey has been a savior for an organization that was previously in a mess. He’s reinvigorated the fan base, brought top talent to Portland, and created an atmosphere around the team that will make big name players come to the Rose City. There aren’t many bad things to say about his tenure, and I fully expect him to continue leading the Blazers down the road to success. Great job Olshey, keep it up. Grade: A CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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