A lot has been said this year about Durant and Oden and which player the Blazers should have chosen. Oden defenders talk about the Blazers choosing Oden to be a role player- that's categorically untrue. I am going to cite opinions facts and dates about the situation, and you can see why my opinion is what it is.
First, Bill Simmons of ESPN answers a question from a reader in his mailbag-
Q: At what point does Sam Bowie hug Greg Oden and tell him it's not his fault over and over again?
-- Andrew, Seattle
SG: Would he put on a Robin Williams sanctioned beard and cardigan? I feel like he'd have to. By the way, Oden-Durant remains one of those rare stories that isn't getting enough attention -- not just the offensive leap that Durant made this season, but just how lousy Oden's "rookie" season has been compared to what our expectations were in 2007. Forget about his durability issues, his knee injury that cost him last season, even all his nagging little injuries this season. Just in the games that he has played -- and again, we're talking about 49 of a possible 125 -- he has been absolutely underwhelming compared to our original expectations. Here's what Chad Ford wrote in his 2007 Draft Tracker scouting report on Oden, and remember, this was the consensus opinion at the time.
"The consensus No. 1 pick in the draft despite Kevin Durant's amazing season. Draws comparisons to Tim Duncan, Patrick Ewing and David Robinson. He may not be spectacular, but most NBA GMs believe he'll immediately be one of the top two centers in the league. His strong performance in the NCAA title game gave us a glimmer of what he's capable of, going for 25 points, 12 boards and four blocks."
I didn't agree with that assessment (especially the "immediately one of the top two centers part) and thought Durant was the only sure thing in that draft. Regardless, a good chunk of people DID agree with Chad's take, and since that's the case, how can anyone argue Oden's NBA career has been anything other than a disaster so far? You don't think it's a red flag that he averaged a 15-9 with three blocks in his only college season, and his typical NBA stat line was "nine points, seven rebounds, one blocks and a 50 percent chance of foul trouble in 20-23 minutes?" What have we seen from him that tells us, "Greg Oden can consistently dominate a basketball game?" I'm still waiting. Hell, even Sam Bowie did better in his rookie season: 10.0 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.8 APG and 2.8 BPG in 76 games. I'm not saying Oden can't turn it around and become a valuable starting center, but his ceiling has lowered to the degree that only an insane person would argue Portland did the right thing two summers ago. The Blazers drafted LaRue Martin over Bob McAdoo in 1972; they gave away young Moses Malone for a measly first-round pick in 1976 (even though he was two years removed from being the most ballyhooed high school prospect since Kareem); they passed on the greatest player of all-time in 1984 (and took a 23-year-old center coming off two years of leg surgeries); they traded out of the third spot in the 2005 draft when Chris Paul and Deron Williams were the next two picks; and they passed on the evolutionary cross between Tracy McGrady, George Gervin and Plastic Man in 2007. Has any sports franchise botched five "sure-thing" decisions on that level in the span of just 35 years? Has to be a record.
You realize a few things.
1. Sam Bowie had a better rookie year with less games missed than Greg Oden. Better stats, better durability.
2. People were NOT thinking of Oden as a serviceable center, but a LEGENDARY once every 30 years one. Chad Ford is no slouch, even though I completely disagreed with his assessment- he is well connected and knows what the NBA scouts, GM's and coaches thought Oden was. A franchise savior. They thought he would be one of the TOP 2 CENTERS FROM DAY ONE. DAY ONE. Not later on, DAY ONE. I think people need to remember that and really consider the facts.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am not a Greg Oden hater. I just think he hasn't lived up yet, and even if he comes back fully, he won't be Tim Duncan, Patrick Ewing, Kareem, Moses Malone... He wont even be Al Jefferson when Greg is at his peak. Let's just face it. The Blazers chose the wrong player. This doesn't mean I'm a blazer hater either. Overall with this current roster, they have made MAN good basketball decisions & have one of the best YOUNG teams in the league. That is all.