A summer of speculation regarding Greg Oden’s future is finally, mercifully due to end. Decision Day is upon us:
The No. 1 pick in the 2007 Draft that spawned four All-Stars, he has played a grand total of 82 NBA games. He is one of the biggest busts in league history. He hasn’t played since 2009, has undergone three microfracture surgeries, and is a recovering alcoholic. So why all the fuss?
Given his lack of impact on the league, the daily “sources say…” updates on his future are uncalled for. Oden possesses career averages of 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks for his career, along with nearly three times as many turnovers (1.4) as assists (0.5).
Friend of the blog and renowned NBA historian nonplayerzealot confirms that Oden was overrated even when healthy. “I was never floored by his defense, and his offense was slightly superior to Samaki Walker’s.” Indeed, though Oden is a good shotblocker who takes up space in the paint, he is not – and never was – the second coming of Patrick Ewing.
Oden has also struggled to stay on the floor due to foul trouble, amassing a whopping 8.4 fouls per 48 minutes for his career – a foul rate that would lead the league by quite a margin. Even JaVale McGee, the king of biting on pump-fakes, averages less at 6.2 per 48 minutes. In the 2009 Playoffs, Oden averaged more fouls (4.5) than rebounds (4.3).
November 2009 was the finest month of Oden’s career: 11 games, 25.7 minutes, 13.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, and a 7-4 team record. Pundits were prematurely labelling that Blazers team a contender before he fractured his patella against the Rockets.
44 months and zero NBA minutes later, Decision 2013 is upon us.
Who will Oden choose? The Pelicans offer the most available minutes, a low-pressure environment, and, reportedly, a two-year contract, but Miami seems the right fit.
The Heat will be able to bring him along slowly in a backup role and ask him to focus only on his strengths: rebounding and rim protection. If his health holds up (a monumental “if”), he would be a useful option to have should the defending champs face Roy Hibbert and the Pacers again in the playoffs. And as role players like Trevor Ariza and Devean George have proven, there’s nothing like one good postseason for a championship team to pump up the size of your next contract.
Talented 7-footers always get a second chance in the NBA; witness Eddy Curry and Andrew Bynum. It is entirely plausible that Oden re-injures something in training camp and never plays again, but at a minimal salary commitment, he is a low risk proposition. A shy but likeable lad who does not take himself too seriously, I wish him well. I also wish he would hurry up and decide so that the updates can cease.