This much is clear: Greg Oden has yet to work out like the Portland Trail Blazers had hoped. Three years into his NBA career he has played 82 games and had multiple injuries and surgeries to his knees.
But is he a bust?
Oden himself took exception to that characterization while speaking with Jason Quick of the Oregonian.
“Is there any proof that I’m a bust?” Oden said. “All there is proof of is that I have bad luck with injuries. When I was out there on the floor, I think I did pretty good for myself. I’ve never really had enough time to play and actually improve. I think last year at the beginning of the year I did OK, started to head down that path. Unfortunately I had an injury. But I’ve prepared myself all summer to be an All Star and be as healthy as I can be and I’m going to keep doing that until I’m able to do that …”
From our seat, bust isn’t the right word. We’ve been hard on him here, but still that’s a big label to put out there.
It’s too early. And bust implies a lack of effort or talent — that has not been Oden’s problem. The man has stopped drinking to help better prepare himself physically. But it is that body has betrayed him. Right now he wants to get back on the court but the doctors — and the Trail Blazers — are holding him off the court until he is 100 percent ready physically. Whenever that may be.
Oden is correct — when he has been on the floor he has been good. He had a PER of 23.1 in the 21 games before he went down last season. That’s Dirk Nowitzki/Pau Gasol level PER. He was impacting games, the Blazers were about 5 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the floor.
And he may yet overcome all the injuries, he could bounce back. For that reason the word “bust” does not fit.
It’s hard, because he comes up in comparison to the No. 2 pick in 2007, Kevin Durant. The league scoring leader. The guy who just lead the USA to gold at the World Championships. They guy being mentioned along with Kobe and LeBron as the best in the game.
Oden is not that. He very well may never be that. But it’s too early to rule him a bust yet.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.