Don’t Call It A Comeback: Greg Oden Eyes NBA Return

Here’s some food for thought, in 2007 George W. Bush was still the POTUS. We don’t have to talk politics to know that things have changed considerably these past five years. Kevin Durant, chosen second in the 2007 NBA Draft, has since taken his team to the NBA Finals, and is on another MVP-worthy campaign alongside a No.1-ranked Thunder team. Marc Gasol, chosen 48th in the draft, might have been that year’s steal as he’s currently an All-NBA big man. And then there’s Greg Oden. Brittle-as-Mr. Glass Oden.

Unable to shake the Sam Bowie blues, the Portland Trail Blazers drafted the former No.1 overall pick ahead of Durant, Al Horford, Mike Conley, Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, and Thaddeus Young. Even Marco Belinelli, currently playing for the overachieving Bulls, would have been a better payoff. Damian Lillard, chosen by the Trail Blazers in the 2012 NBA Draft as a 6th pick, has made P-Town rejoice more in 2.5 months than Greg in a disappointing five years.

Still only 24 years old, Greg Oden’s hope to live up to delayed and NBA-sized expectations has not waned. His sky-high promise remains intact, even after a third microfracture surgery forced the Blazers to waive him. But that promise, unfortunately, goes the way of his knees, and he has since decided to take a year off to rehabilitate his once-promising career.

The end of his rehabilitation would come around the beginning of the 2013-2014 season, when the ex-Blazers prodigy hopes to make an NBA comeback—a return the Miami Heat are watching as intently as Dwyane Wade’s athleticism disappear.

The NBA champs are in desperate need of some interior size, as they have been marked by rebounding woes. At 7-1, and only three years removed from posting the eighth-best PER of 2009, Oden might cover-up those Miami deficiencies nicely. Not to mention that Oden’s career averages in limited minutes (22.1 per game) are something worth gambling on: 9.4 points (57.7% FG), 7.3 rebounds, and 1.43 blocks per contest.

Other than the Miami Heat, the Brooklyn Nets could do good to go after Oden, as Andray Blatche is an overworked man out of position when he steps in for Brook Lopez. Ranked 20th in the league in blocks, and 9th in rebound differential, the Nets would see a nice padding in those areas from 10-15 minutes of playing time from Oden. His defensive grit would help the Nets, who are a top-five team defensively, become defensive powerhouses.

Ranked 24th in rebound differential with an embarrassing -2.8, the Phoenix Suns could be another team interested in Oden. They already rank in the top ten teams for blocks per game, but could use some defensive intensity as they sit in the league’s gutter when it comes to defense. More so than Brooklyn, Phoenix could use the defensive boost.

Phoenix is also known to possess a world-class training staff that helped Grant Hill nurse himself back to health.

Whoever does decide to rest their chips on Oden’s number takes on a huge risk. In addition to knowing that three knee microfracture surgeries might have already dictated Oden’s fate, there’s the looming knowledge that that isn’t the end of it. Across his career he’s dealt with an ankle problem, a wrist injury, a fractured kneecap, a foot issue, and exceptionally bad luck.

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