NBA Draft Busts Series: Greg Oden

The Portland Trailblazers beat the odds (5.3% chance) in the summer of 2007 when they were awarded the first overall pick in the NBA Draft. They would have their choice between two “future All-Star” prospects. Greg Oden, the center out of Ohio State, and Kevin Durant, the small forward out of Texas. The Trailblazers would select Oden that year, while the Seattle SuperSonics would select Durant. This decision by the Trailblazers has altered the NBA to this day. While Durant is one of the greatest players of all time, Oden has been out of the league since 2014. This is the story of Greg Oden.

NBA Draft Busts Series: Greg Oden

High School and College Career

Greg Oden would have one of the most storied high school careers at Lawrence North high school in Indiana. Oden would compile a 103-7 record in high school, winning three state titles, including an undefeated senior season (Mike Conley was on this team as well). He was the Gatorade National Player of the year twice and was the number one recruit in the country in 2006.

Oden would attend Ohio State with Conley entering the 2006-07 season. As a freshman, Oden averaged 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game. He led the Buckeyes all the way to the national championship game in 2007. They would eventually lose to the Florida Gators coached by Billy Donovan who had players such as Al Horford, Joakim Noah, and Corey Brewer. Oden was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the year and a Second team All-American. He would declare for the NBA Draft after one season at OSU.

Rookie and Sophomore Seasons

Oden would miss his entire rookie season (2007-08) after undergoing microfracture surgery in his knee in September 2007. In his debut season, Oden would play 61 games, averaging 8.9 points and 7.9 rebounds in 21.5 minutes. He would leave his first NBA game with a foot injury and miss several weeks after that. The best stretch of Oden’s rookie season came over five games in January, where he would average 16.4 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks. He would miss more time later in February with another knee injury, and after he returned, couldn’t get back to his mid-season form.

Oden showed breakout promise in his second season. He had a 24-point, 12-rebound game against the Chicago Bulls in late November. He would also have a 13-point, 20-rebound, and four-block game against the Heat a couple of games after. If you look at Oden’s per-36-minute numbers for the 2009-10 season, he averaged 16.7 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks. His season would end after 21 games when he fractured his left patella against the Rockets in early December.

More Injuries

Oden would never play in another game for the Trailblazers after his injury in December of 2009. Between setbacks in his rehab and other surgeries he would have on his knees, Oden would not play in the NBA again until the 2013-14 season. He would eventually be waived by the Trailblazers and sign with the Miami Heat for the 2013-14 season. Oden would play sparingly in his one season with the Heat, averaging 9.2 minutes per game over 23 games before retiring after the season. Oden would play three seasons in the NBA, averaging eight points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks.

What-If

If Oden had never gotten injured, would he have been a great NBA player? The stats suggest he could have been. He was a great rebounder and shot-blocker when he was healthy. Although he probably would have had a hard time playing in the modern NBA, considering he never even attempted a three-point shot in his NBA career. Oden will infamously be known as the player that was taken ahead of Kevin Durant, a pick that has haunted the Trailblazers to this day.

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