Part Time Athlete, Full Time Player: Greg Oden

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Sunday, December 05, 2010 with No comments
Standing 7ft tall and weighing 285 pounds, Greg Oden was the number 1 overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2007 NBA draft.  He was the can't miss prospect out of Ohio State which he led to the NCAA title game of 2007 in a match-up with the defending champions, the Florida Gators.  In a losing effort, Oden scored 25 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and blocked 4 shots.  The fascination was understood, in today's NBA, a good big man is hard to come by so the Blazers chose Oden over Kevin Durant who became the 2nd overall pick and was drafted to the Seattle Super Sonics who were later moved to Oklahoma City and rechristened the Thunder.  TNT broadcaster and former GM of the Phoenix Suns proclaimed that Greg Oden was a "Once in a decade player".  Was the shirt that Oden was photoed wearing to the right indeed foreshadowing?

Hindsight is indeed 20/20 because if the Blazers could do the draft all over again I suspect that they would have drafted Kevin Durant over Oden.  Since the 07/08 NBA season the Blazers have played 328 regular season games and Oden has played in only 82 of those games which equates to only 25%.  He missed his entire rookie season "82 games" due to micro fracture surgery on his right knee.  The next year, Oden played in 61 of a possible 82 games which to date is his career high in games played.  During the 09/10 season, Oden missed 61 games due to fracturing his left patella.  To compound the matter it was announced on 11/17/10 that Oden would miss the current NBA season due to micro fracture surgery on his left knee.  Can you say bust?  Over the course of his rookie contract which expires at seasons end, the Blazers would have paid Oden 12.5 million dollars for playing in essence only one NBA season out of a possible four.

Oh the possibilities, greatness cannot be stopped those who are destined to be, simply become.  In the four years since being the 2nd overall pick, Kevin Durant has become an All-Star, won an NBA scoring title, and led team USA to a Gold Medal during the 2010 World Championships, our first since 1994.  During last season's playoffs the Thunder were a rebound away from forcing a game 7 and possibly upsetting the eventual NBA Champion Lakers in the first round.  Before this current season started there was talk of Kevin Durant being among the top five players in the NBA and a possible MVP candidate along with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, and Dwight Howard.

Draft choices can shape a franchise for at least five years or more and the Blazers have never publicly admitted to making a mistake by passing over Kevin Durant for Greg Oden but hours before this past summers NBA draft, management decided to fire GM Kevin Pritchard who'd drafted Oden.  The Blazers have a good young team but having Oden on the court and being productive would have allowed them to become one of the elite teams in the NBA but instead the 12.5 million dollars invested into Oden equated to 82 games, 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game.  If you ask me, Oden has been using the cash that the Blazers waisted on him for his other hobby and honestly their knees should be the ones ailing, not his!