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Oden is a bust

  1. 1. Greg Oden Is A Bust Brendon Nelson
  2. 2. Table of Contents
  3. 3. Abstract Three years after being taken #1 overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Portland Trailblazers, Greg Oden has been a massive disappointment and proven to be a bust. His inability to stay on the court in more ways than one, substandard production when on the court, and inability to be a consistent difference maker in the NBA back up such bold claims, leading to the conclusion that Portland wasted their #1 draft pick on a player who was not as good as previous #1 draft picks, nor as good as players taken after Greg Oden. Irrefutable statistical data backs this up, as the following will show. Based on these conclusions, we can learn that, in the future, it would be wise to pick the 18 year old once-in-a- generation scoring machine over the 75 year old geriatric man with uneven leg lengths.
  4. 4. Chapter One – What is a Bust? When discussing the topic of whether or not Greg Oden is a bust, the first thing that needs to be understood is the term 'bust' with regards to sports. So we open with the simple task of defining what makes a bust. Although formal definitions are somewhat uncommon due to the derogatory nature of the term, a bust in this context is considered a high-draft pick who fails. In the context of the NBA, more specific terminology is called for. Obviously, a high-draft pick is, at the minimum, a lottery pick. Depending on the strength of a draft class, what makes a high-draft pick can be changed from season to season. It is safe to say that any player taken in the top six of a draft, regardless of draft class, has particularly high expectations. It could be argued that the same could be said for the top eight, but let's proceed with a top six prerequisite. Next, the high-drafted player needs to seriously fall short of expectations for the team that selected him. In the NBA, a high draft pick is expected to be a top contributor to a championship winning team at some point in their career. A player can do this by being a quality scorer, play maker/passer, defender, leader, or rebounder, or any combination of these qualities. And they are expected to display these qualities for the team that drafted them within a few seasons. For this article, I'll make references to 'stats', a statistic that I find to be useful in looking at players. There are two types of stats, major stats and total stats. The major stat is the sum of the three statistical categories out of five (Points, Rebounds, Assists, Blocks, Steals) that the player is most prominent in and the total stat is the sum of all five categories. With this in mind, take a look at the stats of some recent 1st overall NBA draft picks in their first few seasons. Major Stat (1) Total Stat (1) Major Stat (2) Total Stat (2) Major Stat (3) Total Stat (3) Derrick Rose 27 28 30.6 31.6 ? ? Dwight Howard 23.7 25.5 29.7 32 31.8 34.6 Lebron James 32.3 34.6 41.8 44.6 45 47.4 Andrew Bogut 17.2 20.1 21.6 25.3 25.8 29.2 Andrea Bargnani 16.3 17.6 14.4 15.8 21.9 23.5 Kwame Brown 8.5 9.6 13.7 15 19 21.4 What conclusions can we draw from this? Rose has shown his value as a high pick early in his career, and has already justified Chicago's #1 overall pick. Howard progressed from a solid contributor into a monster. James went from one of the all-time great rookies to one of the greats in the league. Bogut started off questionably but got better and evolved into a quality player. Bargnani was shaky but improved enough to at least show he can be an okay contributor. Kwame Brown had a miserable start and managed to progress to mediocrity. Howard and James are among the top five players in the league today, Rose is one of the up and coming stars, Bogut has evolved into an elite big man, Bargnani is a talent with an unusual skillset with some weaknesses, and Brown is one of the bigger busts in recent times. I must stress, this doesn't always work out. Joe Smith for instance showcased more potential early in his career than he ended up showing, and Kobe Bryant didn't suggest he'd become one of the all-time great scorers until his fifth season, but it's a fair way to evaluate players with high expectations. In all six of the above instances, cues given early in a player's career gave an idea of where they were headed, except for Rose who has a
  5. 5. future who is yet to play out. Another thing to consider is how a player performed in college, presumably a NBA team hopes that a player can do similar to things in the NBA. Derrick Rose had 24.1 major stats in 40 games on Memphis, a well rounded point guard threat. Dwight Howard's 4 years in high school saw a 36.3 major stat spread, as well as 51 major stats in his senior year, a man among boys who dominated the boards and had insane athletic abilities. Lebron James averaged 21-6.2 his freshman HS season, 38.2 major stats as a sophomore, 43 major stats as a junior, and 44.8 major stats in his senior season, another completely dominant force who could do any and everything for his team. Bogut's two seasons in college featured 30 major stats over 68 games, a high percentage shooter who was known as a quality defender. Bargnani had 24.1 major stats in his final season in Euroleague, an emphasis placed on his combination of center size and elite three point shooting. These five players are doing the same things they did in college, high school, or euroleague, so the team's that drafted them got what they bargained for. Kwame Brown, on the other hand, concluded his HS career at the historic Glynn Academy as the all-time leading rebounder (1,235) and shot-blocker (605), as well as being second all-time in scoring (1,539). His senior major stats came in at 39.2. The Wizards did not get what they were hoping out of the Brown union, expecting a dominant big man. So this is yet another reason we can call Brown a bust. On top of being a large disappointment, a player taken in the draft after the player is often a much better player. For the drafting team to truly feel as if they wasted their pick, there has to be a far superior player who was available at that pick they could have taken instead. For instance, if the twenty players taken after Kwame Brown all proved to be bad to average players, at least Washington could say that there was nothing 'right' they could have done with the pick and their picking of Brown meant nothing. Of course, Pau Gasol went just 2 picks after Brown, a big man like Brown who proved to be a far better player, so it is fair to say that Washington took a poor player when a great player was there. A bust also sets the team that drafted him back, forcing them to pursue other means to fill a hole on their team. For instance, the Bulls drafted Derrick Rose and now have no need to pursue an elite point guard since they are secure at that position for the next decade. The Wizards, on the other hand, found themselves out a center four years after taking Brown and needed to pursue a new one. Finally, often the player leaves the team that drafted him, either to another team to play a piddling role or leaving the league entirely. The team gets either no compensation (other than no longer having to pay the player) or a compensation far smaller than the amount they spent to get the player. From this point, the player may or may not redeem their career, but the team that selected them has already sunk the cost of selecting the player and will still regard him as a bust. So now we know what a bust is and the requirements for being one. To recap: – Must be selected within the top-six picks of a NBA Draft – Must fail to produce for the team that drafted them in the first few years of career – Must fail to live up to expectations established in college/high school/europe – Must be selected above a considerably superior player in hindsight – Must set the team that drafted them back by leaving them lacking at a position – Must eventually leave the team, giving the team back little to nothing in compensation
  6. 6. Chapter Two – Understanding Greg Oden Now that we understand the 'bust' part of the claim that 'Greg Oden is a Bust', we now need to reach some conclusions about understanding Greg Oden. Specifically, what did he do to generate the hype and hope necessary to be selected 1st overall in a draft? So we need to trace his career arc to see how we got here. In Middle School, a young Oden played interscholastic basketball, then dominated the scene at Lawrence North High School, where he won three straight Indiana Class 4A championships. Parade named him Co-Player of the Year in High School with Monta Ellis and he was the National Boys Basketball Player of the Year in 2005. He repeated as National Boys Basketball PoTY in 2006, along with being Indiana Mr Basketball. The Mcdonald's All-American team also put him on their roster, and he played in the All-American game. So naturally he was enthusiastically recruited by Ohio State. The ability to play like a man among boys at the high school level as a center is a key trait NBA teams look for when picking one high in the draft, and Oden certainly accomplished this. Presumably around this time, Oden filled out to the frame he is today. 7 feet 0 inches. 285 pounds. This as an eighteen year old freshman in college. You need to be a physical specimen to be regarded as an elite prospect by NBA scouts, and particularly today with big men and true centers being a rare commodity, Oden's size alone made him a valued prospect. In college, Oden did not disappoint. After missing time due to wrist surgery, Oden participated in 32 games for Ohio State. 28.6 major stats, 29.9 total stats, which doesn't completely include his elite defense that won him defensive player of the year in the Big 10. First team all-big ten. The game winning block against Tennessee in the Sweet 16. A 25-12-4 in the National Title game, even in a loss. Clearly, we're painting the picture of an elite NBA prospect, highlighted by being named to the All- American team. There you have it. The expectations are set for Oden. He'll come into the NBA as a high lottery pick, expected to be a traditional styled center with dominant defense, an elite paint presence, top- quality rebounding, good scoring, and the ability to change the game like few players in the history of the game. After all, that's what he did in college. So, even with the wrist injury and a knee injury hanging over his head already, plus apparently having unbalanced leg lengths, The Blazers couldn't pass up the chance to get a franchise center and selected Oden with the 1st overall pick. So we understand Oden. He was a top-six pick in a NBA draft. As we might say, phase one complete. He's been given immense expectations. Anything less would be a disappointment, and anything significantly less would be...well...we'll get there.
  7. 7. Chapter Three – The First Three Seasons of the Oden era How has Greg Oden been working out for the Trail Blazers? This is probably the most important part of this whole thing, Oden's ability to produce for the Blazers and how it compares to expectations. We'll start from the beginning, although there's sadly very little to find. Perhaps more accurate would be to say there's nothing to find. Well, he signed a contract. Salary $3,885,000.00 $4,176,000.00 $4,476,000.00 $4,476,000.00 Fair enough. The only thing is what he did to earn that initial 3.885 million. Or rather what he didn't do. Greg Oden Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Stats 0 0 0 0 0 That's his statline in 2007-2008. He contributed as much as I did to the Blazers that season, not playing a single minute. Before the season even started, he went under the knife for micro-fracture surgery on his knee and it was immediately obvious he wouldn't be playing that year. The ramifications here are obvious. In the short-term, he loses all of his ability to contribute to the team in his first year. The chance to leave an immediate impact on the league is gone. In the long- term we now have to worry about his injury history, including a wrist and now a knee. There's an extended history of NBA players who had careers cut short or limited by frequent injuries, and Oden's had two significant ones before playing a second in the NBA. That being established, let's go check his 2nd season, officially his rookie season. Greg Oden Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Stats 8.9 7 0.5 1.1 0.4 Of course, that won't tell the whole story, so let's flesh it out. Oden played in 61 games, starting 39 of them, with 21.5 minutes per game. He shot 56.4% from the field and 63.7% from the stripe. 2.8 of his rebounds were on the offensive end. He turned it over 1.4 times per game. He picked up 3.9 fouls per game. And finally, Portland's overall defense was 94.1, 9th in the league, compared to 96.3 the year before (8th). His production given his minutes is reasonable, his shooting percentages are acceptable, his turnovers are in line with what you'd expect, and he was a member of a solid defense that improved from the previous season. The positives being said, there are clear problems. His actual production isn't enough, his impact on the game for the Blazers was on par with what you'd get from a role player. He sustained another major injury that kept him out for an extended period of time. He lost some starts to Joel Przybilla, a career backup who's never averaged double digit points
  8. 8. or boards, indicative of his struggles. He showed no signs of being a capable passer (not that this was a surprise). But the most damning thing here is his historic number of fouls. To put this in perspective, Oden's 3.9 fouls in 21.5 minutes parlays out to 6.5 fouls per 36 minutes, 36 minutes being a fair amount of court time for a franchise player. There was a reason his minutes were limited; he got into foul trouble in record time. And being able to stay on the court is probably the most important thing. Oden failed to do this in three different ways. So his meager production may be the fault of meager minutes, but it comes back to Oden. As for the six game postseason romp...an average of 5 points, 4.3 boards and 1 block in 16 minutes, with 4.5 fouls as icing on the cake. When you're more likely to commit a foul then grab a rebound, well...thinks like getting buried for Joel Przybilla are gonna happen. And we come to...his 3rd season. Greg Oden Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Stats 11.1 8.5 0.9 2.3 0.4 21 games, 21 starts. 23.9 minutes each. 60.5% from the field, 76.6% from the stripe. 3.0 offensive boards. 1.9 turnovers. 4 fouls per. 94.8 defensive ranking (3rd). Alright, he improved, both in actual production and per minute production. His blocks in particular skyrocketed. He didn't lose any starts to backups. His shooting percentages went up to strong marks for big men. And the Blazers had a great defense. Alas...his production still isn't any more than a very good role player. He still can't pass. But two things really, really stick out here that expose his 09-10 campaign as a failure. 21 games. A quarter of the way into the season Oden blew his knee out and immediately cut his year short. Now his fourth significant injury. What else can you say at this point? Maybe he's extremely unlucky, but at some point it's fair to say that his body just isn't built for this. And then...fouls. They went up right alongside his minutes more or less, clocking in at 6 fouls per 36 minutes. Even Dwight Howard, regularly pestered by foul trouble in Orlando, can't come close to such gaudy numbers. It took Oden 3 seasons to play 1 season worth of games (82 games, 60 starts). That hypothetical season would hold the averages of 22.1 minutes, 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 0.4 steals. Not to mention 3.9 fouls and 1.5 turnovers. Let's remember these numbers as we move forward in our analysis. Greg Oden Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Minutes Fouls Turnovers Stats 9.4 7.3 0.6 1.4 0.4 22.1 3.9 1.5
  9. 9. Chapter Four – Oden VS. The World Clearly, Oden failed to live up to expectations from high school and college. Major stats of 17.3, total stats of 19.1, a far cry from his college days. How else can we compare Oden, however? There's more to it than simply saying he's not the guy we thought we were getting. How does Greg Oden stack up with other big men taken #1 overall throughout NBA history? Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Minutes Fouls Turnovers MS TS Oden 9.4 7.3 0.6 1.4 0.4 22.1 3.9 1.5 18.1 19.1 Bargnani 12.4 4.3 1 0.9 0.4 26.9 2.9 1.5 17.6 19 Bogut 11.9 8.5 2.6 1.1 0.7 32.4 3.2 2 21.5 24.8 Howard 15.1 11.6 1.5 1.7 0.9 35.4 3.1 2.8 28.4 30.8 Ming 16.4 8.5 1.3 1.9 0.4 30.8 3.3 2.3 26.8 28.5 Brown 7.8 5.6 1 0.7 0.6 22.9 1.9 1.4 14.1 15.7 Martin 14.6 7 2.3 1.4 1.2 34 3.8 2.3 23 26.5 Brand 19.4 10.6 2.5 1.8 0.9 38 3.2 2.6 31.8 35.2 Olowokandi 9.1 7.4 0.5 1.5 0.4 28.5 3.3 2.1 18 18.9 Duncan 22 12 2.8 2.4 0.8 39 3 3.2 36.4 40 Smith 16.2 7.7 1.2 1.1 0.9 34.2 3 2 25 27.1 Webber 19.1 9.1 4.2 1.8 1.4 34.9 3.3 2.9 30 35.6 O'Neal 27.3 12.8 2.3 2.9 0.9 38.2 3.6 3 43 46.2 First Three Season Averages For Big Men Taken #1 Overall 30 Oden Bargnani Bogut Howard 25 Ming Brown Martin Brand 20 Olowokandi Duncan Smith Webber 15 Amount O'Neal 10 5 0 Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Stat
  10. 10. First Three Season Averages For Big Men Taken #1 Overall 50 Oden 45 Bargnani Bogut 40 How ard 35 Ming 30 Brow n Amount 25 Martin Brand 20 Olow okandi 15 Duncan 10 Smith Webber 5 O'Neal 0 MS TS Stat In a nutshell, Shaq was out of the stratosphere, Duncan, Brand and Webber were very strong, Howard, Ming and Joe Smith were solid, Bogut and Martin were decent, Oden, Bargnani and Olowokandi were mediocre, and Brown was useless. Now, all of these big men play different styles with different strengths and weaknesses (Bargnani comparisons are arguably useless since he's more of a perimeter shooter). Regardless, in terms of per game averages, Oden is on the same tier as Olowokandi and Bargnani, and just a bit above Brown. In a way, we're being generous to Oden with these comparisons. Let's scrap the per game averages and look at career totals over the first three years. Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Minutes Fouls Turnovers MS TS Oden 773 602 50 117 33 1816 322 126 1492 1575 Bargnani 2745 959 233 187 89 5946 632 959 3891 4213 Bogut 2696 1919 589 238 163 7326 729 447 4853 5605 Howard 3716 2853 358 407 212 8719 754 699 6976 7546 Ming 4000 2079 320 463 87 7522 801 573 6542 6949 Brown 1656 1174 213 158 132 4827 408 293 2988 3333 Martin 3183 1530 508 304 266 7404 836 502 5017 5791 Brand 4570 2481 586 413 217 8929 756 620 7464 8267 Olowokandi 1885 1538 109 303 92 5899 691 431 3726 3927 Duncan 4531 2466 579 497 166 8042 611 667 7494 8239 Smith 3899 1867 298 271 221 8252 731 488 6037 6556 Webber 2774 1326 603 258 203 5056 483 422 4358 5164 O'Neal 6585 3095 561 709 209 9218 860 733 10389 11159
  11. 11. First Three Season Averages For Big Men Taken #1 Overall 7000 Oden Bargnani Bogut Howard 6000 Ming Brown Martin 5000 Brand Olowokandi Duncan 4000 Smith Webber Amount O'Neal 3000 2000 1000 0 Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Stat 12000 Oden 10000 Bargnani Bogut 8000 How ard Ming Brow n 6000 Martin Brand 4000 Olow okandi Duncan 2000 Smith Webber O'Neal 0 MS TS To further hammer the point home, a couple of charts that display just how much time Oden missed.
  12. 12. Minutes 10000 Oden Bargnani 9000 Bogut 8000 Howard 7000 Ming 6000 Brown 5000 Martin Brand 4000 Olowokandi 3000 Duncan 2000 Smith 1000 Webber 0 O'Neal Minutes Games 300 Oden 250 Bargnani Bogut Howard 200 Ming Brown 150 Martin Brand Olowokandi 100 Duncan Smith 50 Webber O'Neal 0 Gms MPG 45 Oden Bargnani 40 Bogut 35 How ard 30 Ming Brow n 25 Martin 20 Brand 15 Olow okandi Duncan 10 Smith 5 Webber 0 O'Neal Minutes
  13. 13. In conclusion, what do these statistics and charts show? Oden's per game averages are poor when compared to other 1st overall picks, his bulk statistics are comically abysmal, and he has shown an inability to get on the court and stay on the court like no other recent #1 overall big. Could you believe that, not only is Greg Oden on the Michael Olowokandi/Kwame Brown level in this discussion, but Olowokandi/Brown contributed many times more what Oden did in their first three seasons to Oden in his? In a way, those two guys, two of the biggest busts of all time, displayed far more than Oden has in the same timespan. So, let's take a quick step back. Since we can see the poor nature of Oden's stats in multiple ways, and since we can see how badly they stack up with other 1st overall big men, we can safely say that he has spent the first few years of his career failing to produce for his team and failing to live up to college born expectations. Leaving us halfway there. – Must be selected within the top-six picks of a NBA Draft (Check) – Must fail to produce for the team that drafted them in the first few years of career (Check) – Must fail to live up to expectations established in college/high school/europe (Check) So yes, Oden was a high draft pick. Oden did not produce at a reasonable level for the team that drafted him, notable on it's own but even more glaring when compared to previous top picked bigs. Oden did not live up to the college expectations. But is Portland truly regretting the decision to take Oden? Let's start with the easiest comparisons, Oden against other bigs selected in the 2007 NBA Draft. Again, it's important to say that some of these bigs play different styles than Oden, Horford is an undersized center, Noah is a hustle guy, Davis is an undersized jump shooter...but they all play power forward or center. Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Gms Min MPG MS TS Oden 9.4 7.3 0.6 1.4 0.4 82 1816 22.146 18.1 19.1 Horford 12 9.6 2.1 1.1 0.8 229 7627 33.306 22.7 25.6 Jianlian 9.6 5.8 0.9 0.8 0.6 179 4723 26.385 16.2 17.7 Wright 6.2 3.3 0.4 0.8 0.4 77 1064 13.818 10.3 11.1 Noah 7.9 7.9 1.5 1.3 0.7 218 5397 24.757 17.1 19.3 Hawes 8.8 5.5 1.6 1 0.4 220 5094 23.155 15.3 17.3 Williams 4.3 3.5 0.3 1.2 0.3 126 1871 14.849 9 9.6 Smith 4 2.8 0.4 0.6 0.3 132 1765 13.371 7.4 8.1 Landry 12.2 5.3 0.7 0.5 0.5 191 4647 24.33 18 19.2 Davis 5.9 3.6 0.7 0.3 0.5 199 3510 17.638 9.8 11 Fesenko 2.4 1.9 0.3 0.5 0.2 79 634 8.025 4.8 5.3 Gasol 13.1 8.2 2 1.3 0.9 151 4990 33.046 22.6 25.5 Gray 3.8 3.3 0.7 0.3 0.3 149 1639 11 7.4 8.4
  14. 14. Big Men in the 2007 Draft 14 Oden Horford 12 Jianlian Wright 10 Noah 8 Haw es Williams 6 Smith Landry 4 Davis Fesenko 2 Gasol 0 Gray Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals MS and TS 30 Oden Horford 25 Jianlian Wright 20 Noah Hawes Williams 15 Smith Landry 10 Davis Fesenko Gasol 5 Gray 0 MS TS The good news: Oden is clearly on the 2nd tier of big men, his per game averages compare favorably to other bigs taken in his draft. Al Horford and Marc Gasol are clearly a tier above, but Gasol was a very late pick that the Blazers could not reasonably have taken with a top pick. Oden is probably a solid 3rd or 4th among these bigs, in the same tier as Jianlian, Noah and Landry. Of course...when you're the number one overall pick and considered a once-in-a-generation player, that isn't enough. The expectation was that Oden would be the best big man in the draft at the very least, anything else leaves a lot to be desired. Horford (3rd overall pick) proving to be a superior player does make you wonder, and there was nothing Portland could do about Gasol but the fact remains he's being outplayed by a 2nd rounder. Now for the really bad news.
  15. 15. 250 Oden Horford 200 Jianlian Wright 150 Noah Haw es Williams 100 Smith Landry Davis 50 Fesenko Gasol 0 Gray Gms 9000 8000 Oden Horford 7000 Jianlian 6000 Wright Noah 5000 Haw es 4000 Williams Smith 3000 Landry 2000 Davis Fesenko 1000 Gasol 0 Gray Min 35 Oden 30 Horford Jianlian 25 Wright Noah 20 Haw es Williams 15 Smith 10 Landry Davis 5 Fesenko Gasol 0 Gray MPG So he's on the very bottom tier when it comes to getting in games, the 2nd from the bottom tier in minutes, and middle of the pack in MPG. Not what you're looking for from the 1st overall pick. So, all things considered, there were at least 2 or 3 big men better than Oden that were there at Portland's pick. And as should be fairly clear, a look at total career production will cast Oden in an even poorer light, so
  16. 16. depending on your point of view other players may be more desirable. But the buck doesn't stop at big men. Who were some other players that became something in the NBA? Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Gms Min MPG MS TS Oden 9.4 7.3 0.6 1.4 0.4 82 1816 22.146 18.1 19.1 Durant 25.3 6.2 2.7 0.9 1.4 236 8892 37.678 34.2 36.5 Conley 10.9 2.8 4.7 0.1 1.1 215 6458 30.037 18.4 19.6 Green 14 5.8 1.7 0.6 1 240 8166 34.025 21.5 23.1 Brewer 9.2 3.5 1.9 0.3 1.2 176 4592 26.091 14.6 16.1 Young 12.4 4.8 1.1 0.2 1.2 216 6276 29.056 18.3 19.7 Wright 4 2.3 0.7 0.3 0.5 179 2283 12.754 7 7.8 Thornton 13.3 4.5 1.3 0.6 0.7 225 6891 30.627 19.1 20.4 Stuckey 13 3.3 4.3 0.1 1.1 209 6097 29.172 20.6 21.8 Young 9.1 1.6 0.9 0.2 0.4 231 4416 19.117 11.6 12.2 Belinelli 6.6 1.3 1.4 0.1 0.6 141 2243 15.908 9.3 10 Cook 8 2.5 1.1 0.2 0.4 179 3965 22.151 11.6 12.2 Dudley 6.6 3.5 1.1 0.2 0.9 223 4530 20.314 11.2 12.3 Chandler 13.4 5.1 1.9 0.8 0.7 182 5740 31.538 20.4 21.9 Fernandez 9.4 2.7 2 0.2 0.9 140 3434 24.529 14.1 15.2 Brooks 13 2 3.6 0.1 0.6 213 5525 25.939 18.6 19.3 Afflalo 5.9 2.3 1 0.2 0.5 231 4434 19.195 9.2 9.9 Sessions 10 3 4.7 0.1 0.9 178 4355 24.466 17.7 18.7 40 35 30 Oden Young Durant Belinelli 25 Conley Cook Green Dudley 20 Brew er Chandler 15 Young Fernandez Wright Brooks 10 Thornton Afflalo Stuckey Sessions 5 0 MS TS I'll leave the statistical comparison to this since a comparison across positions for specific stats is largely worthless. What we can measure is overall impact on the game. Oden slaps up 19.1 'stats' per game on average, which is fairly close to the middle of this list of players. Some players clearly outclass him, others arguably do. Disappointments like Conley, Thornton and Stuckey actually have him beat. A games played, minutes played and MPG comparison will have expectedly poor results for Oden, as should be already obvious by the chart. Oden has far fewer games, minutes, and a low-end MPG on this, a full list of impact players taken in the 2007 draft. It just doesn't cut it.
  17. 17. Chapter Five – Healing the Wound So yes, there's a fairly long list of players who would have been better picks for Portland at #1 overall. Not to mention the move of simply trading down. We're getting closer. Oden was a top draft pick who failed to produce or live up to his college expectations, and there were many superior players taken later in the 2007 draft. How did the Blazers deal with this unfortunate reality? First, it's fair to say the team is doing okay. They have their franchise guard and a worthy back- court teammate. They have a reasonably solid power forward and all sorts of depth at all position with role players of varying success. They've won their games and made the playoffs. Just no thanks to Oden, and that's the whole problem. When Oden came to the Blazers, the incumbent center and probable backup was Joel Przybilla, a quality backup big but not too much else. So Oden's escapades so far in his career have forced Przybilla to play more minutes. This is a guy who gave them around 5 points and 8 and a half boards to go with a bit more than a block a game. You can live with that...but you don't want to. Other players who got extra time at center because of Oden's shortcomings include Channing Frye (never worked out in Portland), washed up Raef LaFrentz, undersized Juwan Howard and Jeff Pendergraph, and even Aldridge has had to bump over to the 5. None of these are desirable options, all largely avoidable if Oden hadn't disappointed to the degree that he had. This season, the Blazers had enough of this and made a swap for Marcus Camby. It was a quality trade, Portland gave up little, but getting a player such as Camby goes against what Portland has been trying to do recently (use their draft picks, build up a core of young players in europe, maintain cap freedom). Desparation to obtain a quality center forced Portland to make such a move, and it all comes back to Oden. And now, the Blazers have given Camby a 2 year, 20-25 million dollar deal for next season and the one after. Awful lot of money for an old man who could get over the hill at any time, right? Especially for a team that spent a #1 on a franchise center and have a backup under contract, no? You see where this is going? Substandard center play, trades that go against normal team philosphy, large contracts for aging big men, everything points at Greg Oden. The Blazers needed him to work out, and he hasn't. And it's cost them in multiple ways. There's little else to say. Portland has paid dearly for their mistake already, and further debts are in line. This established...is Oden officially a bust?
  18. 18. Chapter Six – The Portland Redemption? Well, not officially. There's one last step to fulfill. I'll grant that the final step is for posterity. By leaving the team, there's nothing that player can do to salvage his career. Anything he does for another team means nothing to the team that drafted him. Once he moves on, the coffin is sealed and buried. He's a bust, and it's done. So the final step is a sort of a confirmation of what is already the case, proving that the player is a bust and there's no going back. However, I would say a player can be a bust without having left yet, so long as it is a foregone conclusion the player will leave eventually with little to no compensation. And that's exactly where we're going. Oden got paid 5.3+ mil to play mediocre basketball for 21 games. He's getting 6.8 mil next year and is a RFA up to about 8.8 mil for 11/12. With everything you've read above, would you honestly cough up 9 mil a year to a guy who produces average numbers when healthy and is rarely healthy? And that's optimistic, what if he's looking for a long term deal or 8 figures? You think a team won't bite on his crazy potential and give him a juicy contract? I suppose there are alternatives, but they're just as bad or worse. Maybe the Blazers are crazy enough to give Oden that big deal. Now they've sunk significant money into an injury-crippled player who probably can't do what he was expected to be able to do originally. That's probably a lot worse. Perhaps Oden decides to take a small deal and become officially a role player, just giving them 15-20 minutes a game, occasionally producing adequately when healthy, and the Blazers willing to accept whatever he can give and nothing more. Of course, all the above points would still stand, and all this means is Oden would continue to be a massive Portland disappointment, except the fans and team would now expect and accept it. In this situation I'd just regard Oden as a bust who decided to be good natured about it. There's really only one way out of this. Oden has to come back with a vengeance next season, or the following, and show he can be everything hoped coming out of college. 20 points and 10 rebounds. 2-3 blocks a night. Lock-down defense in the paint. It has to be consistent, it has to be big, and it has to happen soon. Maybe there can be late redemption, although much damage has already been done. Given the long list of injuries, established history regarding big men suffering such damages, and everything we know about Oden, I don't think it has any real chance of happening. But, if it does, there can be redemption yet for Oden and his Blazers. He can worm his way out of the bust label and become the franchise center Portland dreamed about. But it's all an unrealistic pipe dream. So in conclusion, I come to the claim that everything in this article has lead me to. Oden was a #1 pick. Oden could not fulfill the hopes instigated by his college career, generic elite NBA expectations, and other #1 pick big men. Oden could not produce on the level of other players selected in his own draft class. Oden's failures caused the Blazers to lose capabilities on the court (leading to losing games) and give up money/players/flexibility for replacements at center. We're just waiting for him to look to reverse his fortunes elsewhere in the NBA, and then, he will be etched in stone as an all-time NBA bust. Until then, we'll have to settle for simply knowing that he's effectively already one, and all that remains is for history to eternally remember him as so.