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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday Linkage: Greg Oden Injury Edition

Henry Abbott of TrueHoop talked to Stephania Bell, a physical therapist who is both a Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. She had the following analysis of Greg's injury:

The initial diagnosis of a midfoot sprain tells us that the injury is in the middle of the foot (of course), which is essentially the region between the base of the toes and the ankle.
This region is critical because it represents the arch of the foot. Forces are transferred from the rearfoot to the forefoot through the midfoot every time a player pushes off his foot to run and jump, and likewise in reverse when landing from a jump. The midfoot also has to absorb a lot of rotational or torsional stress when spinning or pivoting. Any injury to the midfoot can result in instability, which then means the area cannot absorb and distribute stress as well, and the player can't perform those movements without creating pain or increased injury.

The term "Lisfranc" is almost always associated with the more severe type of midfoot injury that we see, but really it describes the region of the foot that is involved. The name comes from a surgeon in Napoleon's army.

A sprain would indicate some injury to the ligaments that support the midfoot. The big issue comes down to the degree of sprain. If minor, meaning there is little visible disruption on MRI, it might mean resting a few games, wearing a protective boot to allow the tissue to heal, easing back into weight-bearing activity, then return to play, perhaps with something protective in the shoe.

If there is greater ligament damage or any instability, the rest time becomes longer. Can be up to about 12 weeks to allow the tissue to fully heal.

The most serious situation would be a Lisfranc fracture-dislocation.

In these instances the ligaments can be sprained badly enough that the bones separate, move out of position (the dislocation) and potentially crack or break (the fracture). This is a situation that most often requires surgical stabilization (pins and screws) to help restore the proper alignment and stability.

The athlete is then non-weight bearing for a while, sometimes up to six-to-eight weeks, and then it is a several-month process to resume normal weight bearing, then gradual increased activity and eventually sport.

In between, there is often a surgical procedure to remove some of the hardware, and the athlete may end up wearing a more rigid foot support in his shoe going forward.
With that said, Mike Barrett didn't seemed too worried last night:
The latest on this, as of late Tuesday night, is that's a mid-foot sprain, and he'll have it checked Wednesday. Doesn't sound too serious, and that's good news.
Sean Meagher at Oregon Live is reporting that the MRI was scheduled for noon today. The results should be in soon...

Ben at Blazers Edge had a good post with links and pictures pertaining to the injury.

With that, there's not much to do but wait and see what happens...

Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Associated Press

Greg Oden Post-Game with ESPN

The thing to take away from this is that he's got a level-head and he wasn't freaking out, by any standard. I guess a year of sitting out will do that to you.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Columbian with an Update on Martell

Brian Hendrickson of The Columbian has an update on Martell. Nothing new, really, but here's the link and the story.

Martell Webster's recovery from a broken bone in his left foot appears to be going well, and the small forward expects to be cleared to remove his orthopedic boot sometime in the next week.
The Blazers won't get an accurate timetable for his return until after the boot is removed and the foot more closely examined. But Webster said his doctor told him this week that he has about another month of healing before starting his rehab, and then another two weeks before he can play. That would put Webster's return somewhere in the first half of December.

Depending on how his rehab goes and on the actual date on which he returns, Martell shouldn't have to play too many teams with premiere forwards. The schedule from mid-to-late December looks like this:

Fri 12 vs LA Clippers 7:00pm CSN ch. 37
Tue 16 vs Sacramento 7:00pm CSN ch. 37
Thu 18 vs Phoenix 7:30pm
Mon 22 @ Denver 6:00pm KGW
Tue 23 vs Denver 7:00pm CSN ch. 37
Thu 25 vs Dallas 7:30pm
Sat 27 vs Toronto 7:00pm CSN ch. 37
Tue 30 vs Boston 7:00pm KGW

So why does it matter who we play? Well, Martell should definitely help us with his shooting, but I'm worried that it might take a while to get back in shape and be able to get his feet back up to speed in order to keep up with the man he's defending. With that said, it doesn't look like he'll be facing a slew of premiere SFs once he comes back...

Clippers -- Martell would be guarding Al Thorton, who could end up being a fine player, but he's certainly not premiere at this point. Last year he was a 13 point and 5 rebound guy in a little under 30 minutes a game.
Summary: Martell should be ok

Kings -- John Salmons torched the Blazers the other night to the tune of 27 points (in a losing effort, I might add), but he's really only a 12 point and 3 rebound guy in around 30 minutes a night.
Summary: Martell should be ok

Suns -- The Arizona Republic is reporting that Terry Porter is starting Matt Barnes. Matt Barnes?! Last year he gave you 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists in 20 minutes a game. And he's no rookie, either. The guy is a five-year veteran. He shouldn't be a problem to defend.
Summary: Martell, using only one leg, could lock this guy down like a guard managing a locked up con in a maximum security prison.

Nuggets (2x) -- The Nuggets don't have a good SF either, do they? Oh wait--Carmelo Anthony, one of the most prolific scorers in the league. If Martell's still recovering, he'll have a heck of a time defending 'Melo. However, if he's healthy....he'll still have a heck of a time defending 'Melo. I wouldn't be surprised to see Nate start Travis Outlaw in order to keep up with Melo's aggressive, slashing, cutting, driving nature.
Summary: Double Uh-oh

Mavs -- This is an interesting situation. I would normally say that the Mavs' SF is Josh Howard and Martell is going to have a hard time keeping up with a 20-point and 7-rebound-a-game man, but interestingly, the Mav's also plan on starting Atoine Wright, a guy who only averaged 6 points and 2-and-a-half rebounds in 20 minutes a night last year. Both are 6-7, and in the Mavericks' offense, I would expect to see both play a "wing" position, the significance in this being that perhaps we see Brandon Roy start the game on Howard and Martell on Wright, a guy whom Martell should have no problem handling.
Summary: Martell should be ok, but Brandon might have a tough game.

Raptors -- For all the hype Jamario Moon received coming into the league, he really only scored 8.5 points and around 6 boards a game in almost 30 minutes a night. He's athletic, but that doesn't make up for his other shortcomings.
Summary: Martell should be ok

Celtics -- Hopefully Martell's back to full speed by the time this game comes around, but in all Truthfullness (lame pun intended), he's going to have a hard time guarding Paul Pierce no matter what his foot feels like.
Summary: Single Uh-Oh

Grand summary: 3 Uh-Ohs, 5 No-problems

Sunday Morning Truehoopin'

I'm still on vacation and everyone's sleeping but me, so I decided to catch up on my Truehoop and found these two Blazer-related (or should I say Oden-related?) articles while doing so.
  • An opposing scout tells Sports Illustrated about Greg Oden: "It's hard to go crazy over Greg Oden coming off his knee surgery before he's played a real NBA game. He's going to be a very good player, no doubt. But a superstar? I'm just not ready to go that far yet. He has great size and hands, he's good around the basket, he can finish, he's decent at the line and he's a good paint rebounder, though he's not really good moving around to get extended rebounds. But I don't know how smart he is on the court, and I can see him getting into foul trouble."
  • ESPN's David Thorpe on Oden: "Oden has played just OK in the preseason, which is to be expected due to his long layoff and the type of knee surgery he's coming back from. But if the NBA's Most Improved Player award was based on in-season play as opposed to play from one season to the next, I think Oden would be the favorite. When his mind and body catch up to the speed of the game, he should be a monster every night out."