Sports

No NBA News, So Let's Talk About Greg Oden

Dwight Jaynes has an interesting post about the Blazers’ bad luck over the years with centers. Bill Walton, Arvydas Sabonis, Sam Bowie, Greg Oden . . . it’s like the franchise is cursed.

Dwight knows a heck of a lot more about NBA basketball than I do, and I learn a lot about the game from reading his stuff. But I have to disagree with his assessment of Oden.

“Those of you who’ve seen him healthy know what I’m talking about,” Dwight writes. “All Portland has needed from him is good health. Everything else would fall into place. The guy is a franchise maker.”

Oden certainly would help. He’s a physical force, and some of his per-minute numbers are terrific. But through the 82 games Oden has actually played, he has done nothing to show that he can stay on the court. The man is a foul machine.

In 2008-09, Oden’s rookie year, he averaged 8.7 fouls per 48 minutes. Among players who averaged 20 minutes a game, the next-highest number in the league that year was 6.9. The following year, Oden averaged 8.0 fouls per 48 minutes, again the highest total in the league among guys who can actually play.

Plus, in the six playoff games Oden has appeared in, he has averaged 13.5 fouls per 48 minutes. Does that sound like a franchise maker?

Unless Oden improves his footwork — which seems unlikely after multiple knee surgeries — I don’t see him being able to stay on the court for 36 minutes a game. Regardless of his health.

Add in the fact that he has no low-post moves if he can’t back his defender under the hoop for a dunk, and the fact that he’s not an effective passer, and there are a lot of holes in his game.

Oden might end up being a world-class rebounder and shot-blocker, and those guys are valuable. You can win a championship with a big man like that. But he was never destined to be a world-class center — healthy or not.