Former No.1 overall draft pick Greg Oden is going to give NBA basketball one more chance and he is lucky enough to have an overwhelming chance to win a title doing it.
The seven foot center who played at Ohio State is joining the Miami Heat officially this week, capping an extended period of speculation that he would do so. Oden hasn’t played since Dec. 5 of 2009, his last outing in a Trail Blazer uniform cut off after just four minutes on the floor. With his injury history, Oden is a risky signing for any team, but if he can maintain his health, he could be a big player for the Heat who struggled to have any impact around the basket throughout last season.
Oden, like Chris Andersen, can give Miami the chance to keep Chris Bosh at power forward instead of having him fill minutes at the five where he doesn’t possess the toughness to compete. During his two year career, Oden averaged 7.3 rebounds per game, a number that could help Miami maintain their supremacy over the likes of Indiana and Chicago.
The Eastern Conference is becoming a much more difficult field to play in with teams like New York, Indiana, Cleveland, Chicago and Brooklyn all boasting strong interior players who can change a game with their ability to defend the rim and rebound. Though Oden never knocked our socks off with blocked shots, he did average 1.4 per game to at least maintain a reputation as a decent shot blocker.
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The big question is his health, something that will most likely ruin this effort to return to the court. His knees are a mess of surgical procedures and failed recoveries. Micro-fracture surgery ends some careers and is likely to keep Oden from ever being the player he could have been. We saw what happened last season with Brandon Roy’s return to basketball after similar troubles with ailing knees. I’m afraid history might just repeat itself with Oden.
The odds of Oden coming into the fold with Miami and playing enough minutes to both stay on his feet and make an impact are slim. While it seems he has rehabbed, his injuries are so extensive that one more bit of misfortune of any kind will undoubtedly end his career. More than likely, this all ends sadly for Oden, a player whose potential will never be realized thanks to the punishment an NBA body takes night in and night out. It’s an unfortunate tale, one that outlines the harsh realities of playing at this level.