Busting Out

To say that it’s been a long couple of years for Greg Oden, former #1 overall pick of the 2007 NBA Draft, would be putting it mildly.  After all, it seems like just yesterday that Oden was wrapping up his freshman year at The Ohio State University with a 25 point, 12 rebound effort in the NCAA National Championship game against Florida. 

Unfortunately for Oden and the Portland Trail Blazers, he hasn’t scored that many in a game since then.  Injuries robbed him of the entire 2007-08 season and last year’s rookie campaign was a personal disappointment, with per game averages of 21.5 mpg and 8.9 ppg (though a respectable 7.0 rpg).

Making up for the slow start to Oden’s professional career in Portland was, of course, the Blazers’ quantum leap in the standings to go along with a return to the Western Conference playoff scrum. 

And Blazers’ fans who expect Oden and the team to continue to improve together have to be thrilled with the news that Oden is “ready to bring the joy to his sophomore season” .

Oden was in Las Vegas last week participating in the USA Basketball minicamp and, by all accounts, is making significant progress toward his goal of being one of the league’s best centers.  Much of the credit appears to be due to his new approach to “just go out there and have fun,” after dealing poorly with the criticism accompanying his less-than-stellar rookie season.

Blazers center Greg Oden

Blazers center Greg Oden

In today’s sports media tidal wave, it is easy to forget that the “expert opinion” can be nothing more than a regurgitation of a well-read popular opinion.  Considering that Bill Simmons has been using his ESPN forum at Sports Guy’s World to take shots at Oden since even before the 2007 NBA Draft, it’s not surprising that most of the blogosphere has followed his lead in labeling Oden a bust.  

Add in the expectations associated with his lofty draft status, to go along with the immediate impact made by the #2 pick in the draft (Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant), and I guess the majority of folks following the NBA have just decided to affix that “bust” label permanently to the Oden Era in Portland.

But wait a minute before buying into that crap.  The kid is all of 21 years old and he’s got the tools, the attitude, and is in the right environment to have a career that will more than make up for his first couple years collecting paychecks in Portland.

Personally, I’m rooting for him.  His career could go in any direction at this point, but remember that the future is unwritten.  And Oden  should be given the benefit of the doubt that, in time, he will be able to live up those great expectations.

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~ by acm213 on July 25, 2009.

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