Portland Trail Blazers: Counting down the most interesting Draft player comparisons in team history

CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) /
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Portland Trail Blazers
Greg Oden, Portland Trail Blazers (Djansezian/Getty Images) /

Greg Oden, Ohio State: 2006-07

Was compared to:

At a sheer first glance, Portland’s front office is maybe blameless. I don’t care if you told me the sky was purple, or how many times you cried wolf; if you told me multiple scouts saw David Robinson / Bill Russell / Patrick Ewing-type potential in a player, it’s something you would certainly have to give thought.

In 2020, Durant vs. Oden is apples vs. oranges. But ESPN’s Page Two highlights that dynamic well. A few of Oden’s specs at the time were hard to ignore, as Kieran Darcy makes note of:

  • 7-foot-2 with a 33-inch wingspan
  • The ambidexterity factor; unlike most bigs, Oden was money with both hands, hitting 61 percent with his off-hand, too.
  • An already-NBA ready body.


There’s no reason to bash our heads through this wall again, and rehash it behind this: this was the Big Three of the future. Oden was supposed to be the defensive ying to Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge’s yang on offensive, while producing double-digit scoring nightly. And for a while, it worked. As noted in the Aldridge blog, the Portland Trail Blazers were 50-12 when all three played.

It’s almost more of a learning experience looking at some of Oden’s “weaknesses” heading into the 2007-08 season. After all, he couldn’t have had very many of them if there’s a case for him being selected ahead of a future top-15 player of all-time in Kevin Durant.

It appeared the jury was out; Oden would definitely be a defense anchor, but he was a work in progress offensively. When people see the Oden-Ewing comparison, they often forget, Ewing wasn’t necessarily touted as an all-time great scorer. As Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune said after Ewing’s 1994 NBA Finals loss:

"“Ewing did set a Finals record for blocks and was the series’ leading rebounder. In effect, he fulfilled his collegiate promise as a defensive presence. That he also became the all-time Knicks scoring leader in nine seasons was the unexpected bonus.”"

Durant has gone on record in saying Oden isn’t a “bust” since he didn’t get a chance to prove his worth. That’s agreeable. Bless his heart. Oden was on track towards having at least a respectable career. But in being compared to three of the ten greatest centers ever, and playing only 105 games, it warrants a spot on the list, if only for intrigue and discussion.