Blazers president Larry Miller is going to have to make some tough decisions regarding perennially injured center Greg Oden’s future over the next couple of years. On the one hand, it can’t be fun to devote resources to a player when you don’t know when he’ll actually be playing NBA basketball, let alone if he’ll ever return to 100%. On the other hand, how terrible would the Blazers feel of Oden actually got healthy and started playing up to his potential for another team?
Since being drafted in 2007, Oden has played in exactly 82 games and has had, essentially, a promising rookie campaign. He’s raw offensively, turns it over too much, and doesn’t have enough post moves to be a 15-20 point a night scoring threat yet. He’s a fearsome shot-blocker and one of the best rebounds in the NBA, but commits too many silly fouls.
If he woke up tomorrow morning magically healthy, he’d be one of the best true centers in basketball, as well as somebody a defense could be built around. Oden doesn’t need to learn anything or add any skills to be a very, very good NBA player at a position where it’s very hard to find very, very, good players — he just needs to not get hurt. This isn’t Dwight Howard adding an 18-foot jumper or a McHale-like set of post moves we’re talking about, or Amar’e Stoudemire learning defensive rotations and how to box out — it’s being able to run and jump and not getting injured in the process. What if, after recovering from this injury, Oden just stopped getting hurt and didn’t suffer a major injury for a few years? It happened for Grant Hill. It happened for Zydrunas Ilgauskas. It didn’t happen for Bill Walton. It has happened for just about every other player in the league.
As a player and a prospect, Greg Oden is clearly worth keeping around, even if he has to miss a good chunk of the 2010-11. It’s Greg Oden’s knees that nobody wants to be in business with, but Miller is looking at Oden as a player rather than a set of problems. Here’s what the Blazers president had to say about Oden today:
“If Greg Oden plays up to his potential he is worth that,” Miller said of the $8.8 million qualifying offer. “We will see where (rehabilitation) things are at that level. But at this point, I don’t see us not giving the offer if Greg is doing the things we need to see him doing to get back on the court. That’s how I feel. If he is doing those things, we want to keep Greg around. I don’t feel like I’m ready to give up on Greg Oden. I don’t think anybody in our organization is ready.”