Yesterday, in his Rookie Watch (Insider Only), ESPN’s David Thorpe took a look at all the advantages the Western Conference has relative to the last couple of draft classes, with special sections on guys like Blake Griffin, Ricky Rubio and Greg Oden. Here’s what he had to say:
When it comes to judging the potential of the sophomore class, Oden is the trump card. No one knows whether he can stay healthy, and it might be years before we know whether Portland got good value with the No. 1 pick. (Yes, of course, it’s interesting to think about what Kevin Durant would look like in a Trail Blazers uniform — that goes without saying.)
But the fact is, Oden was playing at an All-Star level when he went down with his latest knee injury, and he still has a chance to be very special. If we lump him with his rookie class of 2008-09, instead of with the 2007-08 class (he and Durant headed up the draft in 2007, but Oden missed what would have been his rookie season), then he has a chance to come out No. 1 in his class and give the West one of the dominant big men in the game.
It’s worth noting that, among the ESPN crew, Thorpe — a coach and specialist in player development — has probably been the most positive about Oden over the past two years.