Draft Oden! (?)

Well, Greg Oden’s Trailblazer workout has come and gone. After recent reports indicated that there are some big question marks over Oden’s wrist, back, and knee health, Oden came into town, took care of business, and made (even more) fans along the way.

From the Blazer Evangelist blog (a good read, by the way):

For Kevin Durant’s sake, I hope Kevin Pritchard is right and that the Texas Longhorn comes in here like an “assassin” because I think that’s about what it’s going to take to knock Greg Oden off his lofty perch as the odds on favorite to be the #1 pick in next week’s NBA Draft. Like everyone else who was fortunate enough to be one of the select few that got to witness Oden’s Wednesday workout with the Trail Blazers, I went away impressed. But, what’s really captivated me during Oden’s visit is Oden himself. What a perfect match for P-Town. Funny, clever, articulate, self-effacing, and humble are all words I would use to describe the Big O’s demeanor.

I was watching Oden’s interviews on SportsCenter last night, and all I could think of is how comfortable this guy is in his own skin. At only 19, he not only looks older than he is, but he acts it. He’s incredibly mature for his age, and I think is a sure-fire hit…if the concerns about his health are over-blown.

And how is his wrist? Oden was asked. His answer, courtesy of Brian Hendrickson’s Blazer Banter Blog (also a must for news-hungry Blazer fans…)

On whether his wrist is still bothering him:
Oh, no. I was doing one-handed pushups the other day.

Nice. Very, very nice. So, at the risk of repeating the Sam Bowie (taking size, which you can’t draft, and then finding out the wheels were coming off the car) I say draft Greg Oden.

Your thoughts are, as always, welcome.

19 Comments so far

  1. Jay (unregistered) on June 21st, 2007 @ 8:40 am

    “Looks older than he is?” Homeslice looks like he could be Delroy Lindo’s 35 year old brother.


  2. Banana Lee Fishbones (unregistered) on June 21st, 2007 @ 8:58 am

    1. I am thrilled to death that I am not the only person who uses the word “homeslice”. Thanks Jay!

    2. Rusty, who would YOU pick if you had the option? And why?


  3. Rusty (unregistered) on June 21st, 2007 @ 9:04 am

    Well, as I stated above, I say draft Greg Oden.

    Why? Maturity is big. Size is big. I really believe that you need a big center in this league to win in the finals. Taking him offers us an opportunity to move an opportunity to move Zach Randolph (I don’t think we could if we took Durant). We have a center (Joel P.) but he’s never been a true starter in my book, and he’s never been a scoring option. And Durant is just too much of a question mark to me. People have been watching Oden since high school, but Durant didn’t become a name of interest until early-to-mid NCAA season, and hasn’t had to deal with the limelight like Oden has.

    Most of what I like about Oden is in the intangibles. But, at the same time, assuming his knees don’t go out on him, I don’t see how you can miss taking him.

    Okay, BLF, your turn…


  4. Banana Lee Fishbones (unregistered) on June 21st, 2007 @ 9:15 am

    I honestly don’t follow the Blazers enough to discuss this competently, and I only know anything about the Oden/Durant story because I sit across from two NBA fans who explained it to me when I asked who Greg Oden was (it was all over the news that he was in town and I had no idea who he was).

    I think if he’s the right PERSON for the Blazers, especially if either one could be a good PLAYER for the Blazers, then that totally gives him the edge in my book.

    I think trading Brian Grant was one of the dumbest things Portland could have done for that reason, he did a lot of good in this town. If Oden has that kind of PR ability I’ll take him over the next NCAA hotshot any day of the week.


  5. Banana Lee Fishbones (unregistered) on June 21st, 2007 @ 9:18 am

    I’d also like to know why it is that of all the MetBloggers I probably follow the Blazers least of all, but I probably engage you in Blazers talk most of all…come on, half the Metblog is boys don’t any of them watch sports!? (:


  6. Justin (unregistered) on June 21st, 2007 @ 9:44 am

    Greg Oden. Hands down.

    Not only does he have sick game, the kind you need from a Big Man to go anywhere in the West, but Rusty’s nailed something even more important: he comes across as a hell of a guy. After years of having to deal with the various douche bags in Blazer uniforms, wouldn’t it be great to actually have someone representing the team well off the court as well as on?

    My favorite sports writer, Bill Simmons, disagrees:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/070620


  7. Rusty (unregistered) on June 21st, 2007 @ 10:02 am

    Yeah, I read the Simmons piece earlier. I noted he said “nobody would ever dare pass up a franchise center with a ceiling (Greg Oden) for a franchise forward with no ceiling (Kevin Durant).”

    I disagree with his assessment. Durant has a ceiling, we just don’t know where it is. And, really, noone knows where Oden’s ceiling is. He was never 100% in college due to his wrist, and he’s not in playing shape now as he’s doing workouts. From the NBA workouts a couple of weeks ago, though, it’s clear that Oden’s a freak for a guy his size, pretty much matching or exceeding Durant in every category (the stats are available through Jason Quick’s blog: http://blog.oregonlive.com/behindblazersbeat/2007/06/greg_oden_is_a_freak_of_nature.html ).

    And Z-Bo, though an All-Star caliber player, is one of the few in the league who I could see going Pacman Jones on us and just imploding off-court. I really think we need to get him out of town before the other shoe drops. I hope I’m wrong, because by all accounts he’s a good teammate, but I just have no faith in the guy whatsoever…


  8. chad (unregistered) on June 21st, 2007 @ 10:17 am

    Definitely draft Oden, but we need to lower expectations for the poor guy. He’s going to have to share the frontcourt with Aldridge, so I don’t think he’s going to take over and dominate offensively, the way Kevin Durant would. I see Oden averaging 15-20 pts per game, grabbing 10 or more rebounds, and really helping the team hold down the middle defensively.


  9. Rusty (unregistered) on June 21st, 2007 @ 10:23 am

    All realistic. I actually think his production offensively will be lower in the first year (10-15 points) and 8 or so boards, just because he is only 19 and he does need to develop into an NBA player in NBA shape. But in a couple of years he will be a monster.

    Agreed that we need to be careful not to go overboard on our expectations…


  10. Justin (unregistered) on June 21st, 2007 @ 10:27 am

    Definitely agree with Chad, but I think one of the great things about Oden is that he has the personality to take the hype in stride. ‘Sides, he’ll also have Roy, etc to share the limelight with.

    Kinda reminds me of an old Trailblazer poster I had in high school… Showed TP, Clyde, and Kersey running straight at you and just had the caption “Uh Oh” at the bottom.

    And Rusty, I think Randolph has to go. Personally, I can’t get really excited while I still see his name (and Miles’s) on the roster. Dump them both for whatever you can get. Sure, it’ll be hard to replace the points, but it’s addition by subtraction for the team as a whole.


  11. Rusty (unregistered) on June 21st, 2007 @ 10:41 am

    Now that we’ve sufficiently bashed Z-Bo, cue TKrueg…


  12. Daaaaave (unregistered) on June 21st, 2007 @ 12:23 pm

    Bill Simmons is an idiot.


  13. Rusty (unregistered) on June 21st, 2007 @ 1:01 pm

    And, sadly, over time he’s lost his one true ability, which was being funny. I used to make a point of reading him on a semi-regular basis, but once he moved from the East Coast to California, he basically jumped the shark and lost whatever it was that kept him interesting. Now everything I read from his is a riff on Boston sports, the virtues of the movie Rounders, or some new “Pantheon of …” piece where I’m often left unimpressed. Again, sad.


  14. Ross Day (unregistered) on June 21st, 2007 @ 9:34 pm

    There is an old saying in basketball: speed and quickness always slow down, but height never shrinks.

    The fact is that over time Durant will wear down, slow down, and eventually other players will “catch up” with Durant.

    Oden, on the other hand, will always be 7 feet tall. Hell, he may actually grow another inch or two. He is stronger, more athletic for his body type, and fills a need the Blazers have needed for a long, long time.

    Also, Oden will be able to immediately contribute to the Blazers through his defense. It may take him a season to hone his offensive game, but shot blockers like Oden can come into the NBA ready to start blocking shots right out of the box.

    The problem that Durant supporters have is that they assume those of us who want the Blazers to take Oden think that Durant is an inferior player to Oden. But the fact of the matter is that both players are outstanding, its just that Oden is the best fit for the Blazers.

    Draft Oden. Then Draft a Greg Oden Haiku.

    http://ps201blog.typepad.com/mickey_mantles_liver/2007/06/the-greg-oden-h.html


  15. TKrueg (unregistered) on June 21st, 2007 @ 11:42 pm

    I actually believe Prichard when he says this actually isn’t an easy decision. Oden is very much the clear choice… he has all the trappings of a classic NBA superstar in the making. But I wasn’t as impressed with his tournament play. He had obvious stamina issues and seemed tentative at times.

    I just read that Conley Sr. excused Oden’s (winded) Blazer workout as being at 40ish% healthwise, while claiming Oden was at 90% in the championship game. Couple this with his injury issues and his large body… I gotta say, I’m now very curious about a Aldridge-Randolph-Durant-Roy-Sergio lineup.

    By no means do I think that passing on Oden is the right thing to do… he has that something that seems rare nowadays. I’m just really conflicted, and I think we should be prepared for a mild/wild shock come draft day. I don’t put it past Prichard. Whatever he does, I’m confident he did his work and is probably right most of the time. Whatever happens, happens. It’ll work out either way.

    As for Z-bo, you know I love him, but I also sometimes wonder if Portland is in his cards. In the short term, imagine next season with Oden and Randolph starting, Aldridge rotating in. Randolph, without the ever-present triple team, would be a monster. You wouldn’t even need to pursue an expensive SF free agent. We shouldn’t be so quick to accept pennies on the dollar for a 23/10 guy who’s not that bad of a character. His trade value has never been higher? Bullshit. The nation hasn’t seen the Blazers actually play a game on TV in awhile. This draft pick brings instant exposure as the Blazers will no doubt be on ABC or TNT a couple of times next year. Pull a mid-season trade if you want to, just as he’s benefiting from Oden’s help in the middle and posting eye-popping numbers.

    People, when you’re drafting the mid to late first round (Randolph), all you can hope for is you nurture that talent into something productive someday. Well, the Blazers invested in this pick and he’s been in and around the 20 and 10 mark for awhile. After investing so much time and effort into a successful draft pick, why accept nothing equal or better in return? If you’re looking to man the Blazers with no guys who like strip clubs and burning rubber once in awhile, fielding a roster may be difficult.


  16. Banana Lee Fishbones (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2007 @ 7:30 am

    Is it cynical of me to read all these pro-Oden arguments and presume since these are all very reasonable and well thought out arguments that the Blazers are almost certainly going to draft Durant?


  17. Rusty (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2007 @ 8:30 am

    TK: I agree with you that Z-Bo’s a great player, and I think we are essentially in agreement that whatever his NBA future is, it is best for him and, probably, best for Portland for him to experience it somewhere else.

    I also agree with you that we shouldn’t basically take whatever we can get for Z-Bo. With a player of that talent, we can be somewhat selective. But the fact is that with Oden on the roster and our obvious desire to move LaMarcus along in his development, combined with Zach’s need to start, combined with Zach’s former issues (whether you think they’re major or minor, other people in the league realize he brings some baggage), we are essentially a seller in a buyer’s market, and we have to accept that the return will not be of equal or greater value. That said, we absolutely should not give away the farm on Zach, and if we can’t get good value for him, we should play him alot in the first half of the season, run up his stats, and then (assuming he keeps his nose clean) trade him off for good value mid-season. My only concern is it would be better to develop some consistency in our team’s playing style early on, and as we saw last year the team plays differently without Zach than with him.

    To sort of fold in BLF’s question, I wouldn’t be overly surprised if we took Durant, but I would lay money on us taking Oden. Either pick is good. It’s like trying to pick between dinner at Ruth’s Chris or Morton’s; either way you’re getting a steak while other’s are eating Taco Bell. The fact is, our team did make the Sam Bowie pick in the past. Granted, Kevin Pritchard isn’t the guy that made it, and Kevin Durant isn’t Michael Jordan. But we have some institutional history that we uniquely look back upon in this particular circumstance, and it’s possible that given we got burned on a center pick who developed injury issues and passed on a scoring monster who ended up ruling the league, it would be foolish to think KP’s not really, really struggling with this choice.

    But, really, unless Durant COMPLETELY blows us away, I think Oden’s the guy, as a player and a person, that Portland should, and will, take.


  18. Rusty (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2007 @ 8:36 am

    By way of a quick follow-up:

    Good finds on the ‘net today. Dave at Blazer’s Edge does a weekly re-cap of Jason Quick’s chats over at Oregonlive.com, and here’s what Quick apparenlty said on Oden’s physical condition:

    “Q: What is the news?
    A: The Blazers got the results back from Greg Oden’s physical yesterday. It’s very good news for Blazer fans who want the team to draft him. Kevin Pritchard said, “We are getting very comfortable with his physical. I’m not going to comment on each individual thing we looked at but I’ve talked with the doctors and with [team trainer] Jay Jensen and we are getting very comfortable that those are not long-term, serious things for us. It’s one less worry.” I think that answers a lot of questions/concerns over whether Oden’s back, knees, or wrist will prevent the Blazers from drafting him. It doesn’t look like the injury potential will be a factor in the Blazers deciding between Durant and Oden.

    Q: So there are some injuries but they’re not long term?

    A: Yes. In particular in the report it said one leg is longer than the other. That’s fairly common with big men and Pritchard said it’s only half an inch difference and you’re really only concerned if it’s an inch and a half. No big concerns, basically.”

    more at http://www.blazersedge.com/story/2007/6/22/21056/9586

    Over at the Trib, Dwight Jaynes amplified what we’ve already been saying here:

    “Oden has an aura and a presence. Not in an over-the-top way, but with a degree of dignity and calm. He’s cool yet funny. He’s in control and relaxed. Comfortable in his own skin. He seems to know the right things to do and say.

    “He granted interview after interview, spending way more time with the media than was originally planned. And it wasn’t just that he did the interviews, it was that he seemed to actually enjoy them. He wasn’t afraid to poke fun at himself — and came across as a very humble, regular-guy kind of person.”

    more at http://www.portlandtribune.com/sports/story.php?story_id=118245672014231700

    Unless there are real and serious physical concerns, I think you take Oden.


  19. Daaaaave (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2007 @ 2:22 pm

    After this next season, Hoops Hype lists these players still being under contract with the Blazers in 08.

    Zach Randolph $14,666,666
    Raef LaFrentz $12,722,500
    Darius Miles $9,000,000
    Joel Przybilla $6,310,150
    LaMarcus Aldridge $4,631,400
    Martell Webster $3,771,133
    Brandon Roy $3,084,240
    Jarrett Jack $2,002,623
    Sergio Rodriguez $1,048,800

    TOTALS: $42,699,316

    Add Oden’s salary at about $4 mil/season and you’re sitting at around $47 million in payroll. The salary cap for that season should be about $57 million. So add a few scrubs to sit at the end of the bench and even eating Z-Bo’s and Miles’s (and Raef’s) contracts, you’ll still have $8 million to take a run at a small forward. Darius retires (please God) and it’s even better.

    Ricky Davis, Corey Maggette, Antawn Jamison and Shawn Marion all have player options or ETOs in 2008 and may be available to fill the 3 slot.



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