Greg Oden Was the Right Pick
November 19, 2010 11 Comments
The Greg Oden bust songs have come out full force and this time there might be no turning back. In the past couple of days there has been much discussion regarding the news that Greg Oden will once again be out for another season because of injury. This is the third time that Oden has suffered a season-ending knee injury and with the Blazers in dire need of his services it is a major question of whether or not we will see him in a Blazers uniform ever again.
With fellow 2007 draftee and reigning 2009-10 NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant flourishing in Oklahoma City it would seem that, through the benefit of hindsight, we can easily state that the drafting of Greg Oden by Portland was the wrong choice. However, if you take a closer look into the understanding behind the Greg Oden choice there is no doubt in my mind that it was the right one.
As I said it is easy to say that the Greg Oden pick was a bad one, but if you think back to 2007 you would remember that the Blazers front office as well as fans and analysts alike spent the summer trying to figure out which player would be the better selection. The #1 choice that year was a virtual coin toss between Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. The situation was essentially the same as the Peyton Manning, Ryan Leaf debate except for one key ingredient to the equation. With the crucial aspect being that Oden and Durant do not play the same position unlike Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf.
When drafting players there is always that fine line of drafting for talent or for need. Eve though this was not even a situation that was necessarily talent over need, the need of the Blazers was not for another primary ball handler and scorer.
With the Blazers currently sitting at 8-5 in the tough Western Conference, and their franchise player Brandon Roy currently out with a nagging injury to his knees I guess they could use a legit star. However, back in 2007, Brandon Roy was a healthy, emerging star in the NBA. His silky-smooth play combined with leadership and poise made him a player that any team would love to have as the focus of their franchise.
Why would the 2007 Portland Trail Blazers mess with the center-piece of their franchise by adding another ball-dominating, scoring wing player?
Having two ball-dominant guards in the NBA is something that is not looked upon as the formula for a championship winning team. Year after year we see that the winning teams combine a star wing player with a or multiple quality big men, which was something the Blazers were still looking for back when they chose to draft Oden in 2007. In fact, the Blazers still could use that elusive big man in their line-up as Lamarcus Aldridge is not the interior presence that team’s fear on defence, nor is he enough of a pure scoring force to make up for that lack of defensive prowess. Moreover, the Blazers are employing past his prime, 36-year-old Marcus Camby as their starting center who would serve much better at this point in his career in a backup role.
The Los Angeles Lakers combined Kobe with Shaq and then Pau Gasol, the Spurs have Parker/Ginobli with Tim Duncan, and the Heat had Wade with Shaq just to give a few examples of championship winning combinations. Contrast that to a Nugget unification of Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony or the potential bust of the current Miami Heat team with Lebron James and Dwayne Wade
If Greg Oden was healthy and able to fulfill the vast potential that everyone see’s in him there is no doubt that he would be a perfect fit in the Blazer line-up. His scoring touch isn’t as polished as it needs to be, but when you have Roy and Aldridge as your two primary scorers there is no pressure on him to put up 15-20 points on a nightly basis.
Obviously though this is not the case. Greg Oden is not healthy and he is not realizing his vast potential. Nonetheless I still feel that the most important aspect of this debate is that Kevin Durant wasn’t, is not, and never will be the right piece of the puzzle for the Portland Trail Blazers as long as Brandon Roy is in town.
It is sad to see that Greg Oden will most likely end up being a bust rather than a star, but Blazer fans and Oden critics need to understand the process instead of just pointing to the results.
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