And now to the final position in his off-season rankings over at Ball Don’t Lie of the top 30 players at each position, Kelly Dwyer ranks the centers. Blazer Greg Oden appears #11 on this list–same position as last year– and here is what Dwyer had to say about Oden:
These are quite a few injuries, for someone who has been playing on the NCAA or NBA level since 2006.
But they’re different injuries. Freak injuries. Not like Yao Ming or Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Bill Walton turning their feet into dust with repeated stress fractures. These are just things that have gone incredibly wrong.
So, I’d like to rank Oden higher. I really would. And while some might want to see him paired with Yao Ming around the same spot, it needs to be shouted that Greg Oden is not Yao Ming. He hasn’t had the same repeated injuries in the same spot. He’s injury-prone, yes, but only in the most literal sense of the phrase. If Oden stays healthy and can limit his fouls? He’s top five. Maybe top three.
The point on the injuries may provide some Chicken Soup to the soul of a Blazer fan, but it’s also true. As much as people want to compare him to Sam Bowie, remember that Bowie came into the NBA with injuries and they kept getting worse. It’s a fragile season for Oden because of the injuries he’s gone through, but nothing that can’t be overcome. He’s shown improvement when he’s been able to get on the court, and if he’s healthy should continue to move that way. For pete’s sake, this is a guy who according to John Hollinger had a PER only behind Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard–the cream of the crop as far as bigs in the NBA.