Greg Oden - Savior or Bust?

        As one of the most hyped players to enter of the NBA Draft since LeBron James, Greg Oden, the one-and-done freshman phenom from Ohio State, has fizzled out to be nothing more than an injury-prone dud. Not to say that Oden hasn't accomplished anything over his basketball career. The former 2-time PARADE High School Player of the Year and 2-time Gatorade National Player of the Year also garnered 2nd Team All-American honors while at OSU. But, his inability to stay healthy in the NBA has further pushed the Greg Oden vs. Kevin Durant argument in Durant's favor.

        This "once-in-a-decade player" (according to former player and current Phoenix Suns' GM Steve Kerr) was supposed to help Portland jump into the mix as one of the top teams in the Western Conference. But, since Oden was selected as the first overall pick of the 2007 NBA Draft, the Trail Blazers failed to make the playoffs in 2007-08 and were sent packing after the first round of the 2008-09 playoffs, courtesy of the Houston Rockets. Oden has only played in 82 games over his career, starting in 60 of them. He missed the entire 2007-08 season after undergoing knee surgery and, during the 2008-09 season, he missed six games in early November with a right foot sprain and the first fourteen games post-All Star Break because of a bone chip in his left knee. With the recent news of Oden suffering another season-ending knee injury, it looks like it's going to be another long season of uncertainties for Portland.

    With career averages of 9.5 points and just over 7 rebounds a game, Oden is more comparable Sam Bowie (another former Trail Blazers first-round pick) than to Kevin Durant. Bowie, who was drafted one spot ahead of Michael Jordan, was also voted Sports Illustrated's biggest draft bust in NBA history. Is Oden just as big of a bust?

        In his 21 games this season, Oden has averaged a career high in minutes per game (23.9), field-goal percentage (60.5%), free-throw percentage (76.6%), rebounds per game (8.5), blocks (2.3) and points per contest (11.1). It's unfortunate for Oden that his best year as a pro has been cut sure with his latest injury. The only way for the Portland center to continue to produce is if he can stay healthy. Just like for Bowie, that's a big if.

By Staff Writer Peter Checki - 12-14-09