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.