This is the slow time in the NBA off-season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start looking ahead to the 2010-11 season and which players might surprise us. The Slept-on Files will feature some of the players you might have overlooked or written off — and give you reasons why you shouldn’t.

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Greg Oden’s File — Career numbers: 2 seasons, 82 games, 22.1 MPG, 9.4 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 3.9 FPG; 2009-10 numbers: 21 games, 23.9 MPG, 11.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.3 BPG, 4.0 FPG

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Why he’s being slept on: Many NBA fans are prepared to write off Greg Oden’s career because of his bad luck with injuries, and it’s hard to blame them. He had surgery on his wrist in 2006, he had microfracture surgery on his right knee in 2007, he injured his foot in 2008, and he fractured his left patella in 2009. He missed the entire 2007-08 season because of the microfracture surgery and he only played in 82 out of a possible 164 games since then.

When Oden did get to play, he showed a tendency to get in foul trouble and therefore had to split minutes with (equally injury-prone) Joel Przybilla. It’s likely that many non-Blazer fans  have barely had a chance to watch Oden play so they really have no reason to dispute the widely-held view that the first overall pick in the 2007 draft is a complete and utter bust — the fact that Kevin Durant was picked second in that draft does not help this perception.

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Why he shouldn’t be slept-on: It’s impossible to predict if he’ll ever be able to string together enough healthy games to have a major impact on an up-and-coming Portland team, but diehard Blazers fans know what the big fella is capable of when he’s on the floor. He’s deceivingly mobile and coordinated for his size, he has soft hands and a good scoring touch, he’s strong as hell, he’s a true intimidator in the lane and he can be a force of nature on the boards. In his final full game before the knee injury that ended his season, Oden had 13 points, 20 rebounds and 4 blocks in 30 minutes against the Heat. Four other players had at least 20 rebounds and four blocks in a game last season: Dwight Howard (nine times!), Andrew Bogut, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah.

Speaking of keeping good company, here’s another list that should make you think twice about calling Oden a bust. Last season, eight players had a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 23.0 or better in at least 500 minutes of playing time. (Oden played in 502 minutes before his season-ending injury, hence the cut-off point.) Here is that list:

1. LeBron James: 31.1
2. Dwyane Wade: 28.0
3. Kevin Durant: 26.2
4. Chris Bosh: 25.0
5. Tim Duncan: 24.7
6. Dwight Howard: 24.0
7. Chris Paul: 23.7
8. Greg Oden: 23.1

Of course, it’s crazy-talk to suggest that Oden actually deserves to be compared to those players because they all played significantly more minutes — and even if Oden is able to miraculously stay healthy for most of next season, he still has to figure out how to reduce his foul rate (6.0 personal fouls per 36 minutes last season) so he can stay on the court. But the talent is there, and he’s still just 22 years old. When the 2011 All-Star Game happens on Feb. 20, I will be equally unsurprised if Oden is watching from a wheelchair or sitting on the Western Conference team bench.

Comments (15)

  1. Absolutely, Scott. If Greg stays healthy, he IS as good as the NBA’s elite. He’s shown plenty of talent and ability to dominate NBA games, even when matched against some of the league’s best centers.

    Most Blazers fans–true fans–don’t think Greg is a bust, and don’t regret Portland taking him #1 over Durant. Almost every GM in the league would have taken Oden (unless Howard is on your roster), and he’s shown that he’s legit. Let’s hope that he can stay healthy, because not only will he be dominant, he’s a really good guy.

  2. I think Oden wishes he slept on the idea of sending files over social networks.

  3. Travis: As a Raptors fan, I’m jealous of any fan of a team with a REAL center like Oden who can make a significant impact defensively and on the boards. Oden’s a stud, he just needs to stay on the court to prove it to the haters.

    PB: Obvious joke is obvious, but I’ll give you a “ZING!” for that anyway.

  4. You mean Bargs isn’t getting it done defensively? I wouldn’t have guessed…

    Of course, gotta be on the floor to even have a chance to get it done and prove the haters wrong. I’m at a point where a full, successful, healthy 78+ games from Oden is all I want out of this season. That’d probably mean 16/10 from Greg.

    (I don’t have much/any faith in Nate, and his new staff is underwhelming, downgrades all over the place.)

  5. I’m going to use this article as a rebuttal to every troll I hear saying Oden is a bust and an awful player. Tell me his injuries and foul rate are concerning and I’ll agree with you but this guy can play and is a top 10 NBA talent when healthy. There is a reason he was picked before Durant, I just hope he has the opportunity to show that.

  6. Tim: Most people would rather recycle well-worn talking points rather than take the time to actually watch extensive footage of the players they’re disrespecting. Oden has All-Star talent. Whether he’ll ever be healthy enough to prove it remains to be seen.

  7. I didn’t even realise Oden was thought of as a legit bust, rather than a precociously talented kid with the body of a 90 year old.

    Maybe I read too many smart blogs and don’t watch ESPN enough [/cheap shot]

  8. Being a trailblazer fan and having seen oden play live quite a few times, I can say that if he puts some time on the floor people will be impressed. Every player has moments in which they shine, but Oden does some things that are just amazing. When he is on it just totally changes the game for everyone, and he’s barely had any chance to grow through experience playing against real nba players. I cannot wait for him to work it out and put together that mind blowing season that I know is possible.

  9. Great info on Greg Scott…it’s exactly what so many of us feel here…that Oden still has a legit shot to be a great player.

    At the same time, we’re all a bit nervous every time he lands or runs or ???

    It’s going to take a full year of being injury free to start feeling more comfortable with the big fella, but if it happens, the Blazers become a serious contender…and very few of the “experts” give us much of a shot at the WCF this year. I’d love to prove them wrong.

  10. Great article on Oden. It is obvious he could be just as much of a bust due to injuries as he could be a star in the league. People need to give him time. If Oden and Pryz stay healthy with Camby here too, Portland may have the best trio of big men and can substitute to help keep all of them healthy so they don’t have to endure 82 games of the physical beatings centers take.

    Go Blazers!

  11. Greg is the key to Portland’s Championship contention. Without Greg, Portland is a very good team. With Greg they are dominant. Having that low post scorer that Charles Barkley talks about the Blazers needing is crucial to their designed offense and Greg is that player. With Marcus Camby aboard this season and Joel Przybilla also returning from injury the Portland Big Men contingent is equal or better than every other team. Greg needs one more season of play to hone the rough edges and avoid foul troubles. By the end of this year he is ready to rock the Blazers through the first round of the playoffs and deep into May or even June.

  12. If you checked team and individual defensive efficiency last year, you would have noticed that the Blazers were #2 in the league (behind the Celtics) last year when Oden was on the court. They finished mid-pack (#13 if memory serves) – and were actually as low as #17 before the Camby trade. For a brief 20 games, last year, Oden was probably the best defensive player in the league.

  13. Agreed!! Oden-haters are too quick to label!! Dude’s only 21-22. Everyone here in PDX remembers Bowie over Jordan, and Walton tho.
    Plus, when KD is lighting it up when our pick is hobbled it’s like adding fuel to the fire.

    Scott: Bargani is a PF, they need a C on the Raps so he can play his style – stretch 4
    (not in the paint, back to the basket, typical low-post presence kind of game).

  14. It really sucks for Greg Oden, not playing a full season. Yes he has gotten better since which is a positive and I think the foul trouble will fade when he plays more seasons (best of luck). The thing I’m worried about other than his injuries is his offensive game. If he doesn’t develope an offensive game to be compared to D12, he’ll just be another Ben Wallace. No offense to Wallace but with all that size and strength, it hurts me to watch those players only be defenders.

    Scott: Who was on that Heat team anyway to stop Oden. It’s like Pau Gosal against the Rockets in the playoffs a few years back, when Yao got injured. Who else do they have to stop the 7 footer?

    KEEP IT JIGGY!

  15. what I would do to see him be consistent…. flashes of talent are nice but i’d gladly take a healthy consistent season from him haha

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