Greg Oden is quite the hot commodity for a guy who has only played 82 NBA games since being drafted No. 1 overall in the 2007 NBA Draft. Oden’s once promising young career has been derailed by knee problems. Oden wants to make a comeback, and a lot of NBA teams are willing to give him a chance. According to reports, the Heat, Mavericks, Spurs, Kings, and Pelicans are all interested in signing the 25 year old center. Oden will meet with Dallas, New Orleans, and Sacramento officials this week in Vegas.
The question is, should New Orleans risk signing one of the biggest draft busts in recent history? The answer, of course. Why? Let’s not forget who this guy is.
Oden’s freshman season at Ohio State, he dominated the game, averaging 15.7 ppg, 9.6 rpg, and 3.3 bpg, while also leading his Buckeyes to the National Championship game. For a freshman, those are fantastic numbers. Recent Pelicans No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis averaged a similar 14.2 ppg, 10.4 rpg, and 4.7 bpg (OK the blocks per game stat is a little different, but, let’s be honest, Davis is a freak) in his lone season at the University of Kentucky, where he also led his team to the National Championship game.
In Oden’s only two healthy seasons in the NBA, he has racked up career averages of 9.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg, and 1.4 bpg. Those numbers aren’t great, but for a guy with knee problems out the wazoo, that isn’t terrible, especially considering those are better numbers than some starting centers in the NBA today who actually have healthy knees.
Not to mention the guy is 7 feet tall and weighs 285 lbs. He is a big dude. Also, he was picked over Kevin Durant. There’s a reason that happened. He HAD superstar potential. Now, he won’t be a superstar if he does make an NBA comeback, because that would be a miracle considering his health, but the size, skill set, and mindset are still there. We know the Pelicans are running out of cap space (signed a lower end C- Greg Stiemsma rather than paying bigger bucks for a better one), so if they do win the sweepstakes, he won’t be signed to a big deal, and hopefully, a one-year deal.
At worst, he is a failed experiment and the Pelicans and they get rid of him if he doesn’t work. At best, he becomes a legitimate starting NBA Center and develops alongside Anthony Davis. Why not?