David Thorpe on Oden

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.

Tags: David Thorpe ESPN Greg Oden NBA General Portland Trail Blazers

  • Torridjoe

    It’s easy to see…Greg changed games when he was on the court, especially defensively. That’s a real time admission by the league what they believe he was capable of, that they pointedly did not show him last year. This season, as Thorpe notes when he went down he was beginning to raise some eyebrows with solid numbers, but it’s the impact on the game when he’s not shooting or engaging the ballhandler on defense. The best teams in the NBA unfortunately blast right down the middle on Portland now, and that’s because resistance is minimal. They’re holding it together against everyone else, but the elites expose them.

    But with Greg on the floor, those elites hesitate to crash the lane as a strategy–and the mortals of the league don’t even try. On defense, there’s a lot less leaking out on Portland after the shot, because the combined O-bounding of Oden and Przybillia was dominant on a nonocassional basis.

    This Blazer fan totally respects KDs game, and he’s a
    game winner…but Oden looks to be a game changer,
    and that’s a path to titles when you have one.

  • http://ripcityproject.com Coup

    Well said. I wouldn’t go so far as to say “mortals” wouldn’t even challenge Greg, considering how little he has played. But he’s even a very different paint defender than, say, Marcus Camby.