With the NBA draft a week away NBA general managers are scrambling to try and find that proverbial diamond in the rough that includes the owners of the top two picks in this years draft– the Portland Trailblazers and the Seattle Supersonics. While it is known that Greg Oden and Kevin Durant will go in the first two picks, some are wondering which will go first. Most mock drafts believe that Greg Oden will be the first pick, others say that the Blazers could surprise everyone and draft Durant. My Personnel belief is that the Blazers will do exactly as expected, and take Greg Oden.
The Center position in the NBA is the weakest it has ever been, with only one all-star caliber, real center in his prime, that being Houston’s Yao Ming. The Other centers in today’s NBA are either aging vets who can still play because of lack of competion like Miami’s Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning, or converted power forwards like Chicago’s Ben Wallace or Utah’s Mehmet Okur. This fact alone makes Odens value a lot higher than it would be if the NBA was littered with quality centers like it was in the Early Nineties. Oden at seven-foot one inch would not be the tallest center in the NBA, in fact he wouldn’t even be in the top 10 tallest, but his height would give his team many more options than what they would have if they had a 6'10 center like most other teams.
Oden isn’t all about height, He is also a very skilled player who brings a lot more intangibles to the game than his counterpart Kevin Durant. Durant is the better offensive player and will score more points in his career than Oden, but players like Durant are a dime a dozen in today’s NBA with almost every team having their own version of Kevin Durant. Oden however, is a much better defensive player, his height and his colossal wingspan will make him one of the leagues best shot blockers next year, Oden is also a very good rebounder and has great footwork. These qualities are what sets him above Durant, Oden is going to have a career much like Tim Duncan of San Antonio. He won’t be the best offensive player, and wont even be anywhere near it, but he will always be among the best defenders and most efficient players in the league.
Today’s game is marketed on flashiness and high tempoed offense but while that is fun to watch it isn’t what wins in the game today that is why teams like the Suns always get eliminated in the playoffs in the second round while teams like the Spurs and Pistons win NBA championships. Efficiency is what wins not flash, sometimes a team like Miami can combine the two for a while and win, but that is something very hard to do. Oden is very good at being in a set offense where he doesn’t need the ball to have an impact, Durant on the other hand must have the ball to make any sort of impact. This is why Greg Oden is the right choice with the first pick, if the Blazers select Durant it will be Sam Bowie in 84 all over again.