Thursday, October 30, 2008

Greg Oden Will Be Fine

I have seen so many people call Greg Oden injury prone. I've even heard one "expert" say quote,

Here’s what the Blazers do know: They can’t depend on their young center. Not yet, at least. Maybe not ever.

And if you're like me, you've heard all the "shoulda' drafted Kevin Durant!" talk. And the "Why'd the Blazers draft a center? Everyone knows centers are injury prone" talk.

It's nonsense. Pure nonsense. For three reasons.

Reason One: Unfair Comparison (The Center is Your Tank)

You know what, they're right. Centers are injury prone. If you compare them to guards. If you compare them to forwards. But that's wrong.

Comparing Greg Oden or any center to a guard or forward is like comparing an M1 Abrams tank to a Humvee. It's just not a fair straight-up comparison. If you want to call him injury prone, compare him to other centers, like Blodgett did.

The thing is, tanks break down. They are more susceptible to breaking this, twisting a that, smashing a one of those....but does that mean you don't want them in your army? By no means! Everyone knows that one, well-oiled tank can be worth a thousand humvees. You bring a tank into battle knowing it's going to break down and knowing it's going to take 4 gallons of diesel to the mile.

The center position in the NBA is a nitty, gritty, position where there's a lot of rumbling. There's battle going on. Guards are going to be less prone to injury because they aren't getting body-slammed to the floor by Andrew Bynum three times a game. They aren't getting the ball smashed into their face by Shaquille. They aren't taking elbows to the neck on a regular basis. The center is the tank of the NBA, so you take what you can, and make do with what else you've got when your tank is down for repairs. Praise be that we have two tanks in Greg and Joel, so if one's down, the other is up and ready to roll.

Reason Two: Unfair Expectations (You're Throwing the Weight of the World On a Recruit)

Greg Oden is what? A rookie. Meaning:


 [rook-ee] –noun

1. an athlete playing his or her first season as a member of a professional sports team: The rookie replaced the injured regular at first base.
2. a raw recruit, as in the army or on a police force.
3. a novice; tyro

1890–95; alter. of recruit; see -y

Notice the word comes from the word "recruit." Greg Oden is a new recruit--not an officer, not a commander, not a general--a recruit. And sometimes, recruits get hurt on the first day of battle. Sometimes they may even get hurt in boot camp. Does that mean they're not worthy soldiers? I would say no, unless they're faking it because they're afraid of battle, which I don't think ANYONE would accuse Greg Oden of. You just move on and wait to fight another day, letting your officers and generals (that is, your veteran fighters--B-Roy, LMA, Joel, Travis, Blake) lead the way. A recruit shouldn't feel the weight of an entire war on his shoulders, no matter how skilled he is.

Reason Three: The Season and His Career Are Young (The Battle Has Just Begun)

We are one game into a season of 82 games. Or if you want to look at Oden's career as a whole, assuming a 15-year career, he's approximately 1/15 of the way through his career.

It's just the beginning. Luke doesn't defeat Vader in Episode 4--it takes him three movies to do it. Let's give Oden some time, ehh? Because he wasn't strong enough to bring balance to the Force right off the bat, do you give up on him? Give him some time!

To return to the tank analogy, if he finally goes out to battle in year two and the machine gun turret is gummed up, do you give up and hand your enemy a $15 million dollar tank in exchange for a few ATVs and Humvees simply because the tank isn't operable at the moment?

I'd stick with the tank.

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