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.
Second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr. has been rumored to be on the trade block. The Dallas Mavericks guard hasn’t seen eye-to-eye with coach Rick Carlisle, and several teams have expressed interest in Smith. It appeared that Smith was all set to join another team as part of a swap as we approach the trade deadline.
A report on Sunday on the latest from Dallas has changed all that. According to The Athletic, Smith and Carlisle have had productive talks and the 21-year-old is set to rejoin the team for their game on Tuesday.
Smith hasn’t made the kind of leap the Mavericks were hoping for. Despite an offensive explosion across the league, he hasn’t seen his advanced numbers experience a significant bump. Smith’s flaws are that of a young player — shooting and decision-making — so any additional communication with coaches will be a good thing for him.
Who knows is he and Carlisle can ever heal the wound fully, but it felt too soon to press the eject button on a Top 10 pick like Smith for Mavs fans.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been dealt another injury loss.
Lakers PG Lonzo Ball, part of the young core the team is trying to develop around LeBron James, suffered an ankle sprain against the Houston Rockets on Saturday. The team release via their website said Ball would be re-evaluated but could mis 4-6 weeks.
Lakers guard Lonzo Ball, who was injured in last night’s game at Houston, underwent an MRI which revealed a Grade 3 left ankle sprain. Ball is expected to miss 4-6 weeks and updates will be provided as appropriate.
Ball had to be carried from the court after he collided with James Ennis during a play in the third quarter. Ball appeared to step on Ennis’ foot when the Rockets player tried to cut him off from the basket.
LA has had a rough go of it since LeBron injured his groin some 13 games ago. The Lakers have also been without Rajon Rondo, and have had a tough time winning games. The team, once thoroughly in the playoff race, has now dipped to ninth place in the West.
James and Rondo have been cleared for basketball activities, and they need their veteran leadership now more than ever heading into the All-Star break.
Dwyane Wade is a Chicago native but the Miami Heat guard only played in the Windy City for a short amount of time. Wade was a member of the Chicago Bulls for 60 games in 2016-17 despite having signed a massive contract with the team in July of 2016.
Wade is now back where he belongs in Miami, and he’s been on a bit of a farewell tour across the NBA. As such, the Bulls felt it prudent to show a little tribute video for Wade before the final game he was to play at United Center.
How Bulls fans feel about Wade probably depends on who you ask, but a tribute video from the organization is a classy touch no matter what.
Wade has done jersey swaps with players around the league and in Chicago he got a special one: Benny the Bull.
There’s been a lot of clever NBA All-Star marketing over the years. Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum did a “Napoleon Dynamite”-themed video for his buddy Damian Lillard this season. The Toronto Raptors made a faux-vintage action figure ad for Kawhi Leonard.
Now it appears that anime website Crunchyroll is trying to get “One Piece” fans to vote for Oklahoma City Thunder big man Steven Adams.
Adams is a fan of anime, and has professed his admiration for the show “One Piece” before. Adams made mention about how he was watching the show instead of Kevin Durant‘s debut with the Golden State Warriors a while back. In turn, Crunchyroll — a streaming site — made a video trying to get people to vote for Adams in the NBA fan vote.
That’s pretty good, but will it be enough? We know the fan vote gets wild, especially with favorites who are sort of undeserving (Derrick Rose and Luka Doncic come to mind). Could a big push from the anime crowd help Adams, who is an excellent player but who has never been an All-Star, notch his first bid?