Portland’s Top Draft Pick in 2007 Looking to Prove Doubters Wrong
The Ghost of Blazers' Draft Past
Remember a simpler time, a time when the future of the Portland Trailblazers could not have been brighter. The Blazers sat with the number two pick in the 1984 NBA Draft.
The Class of '84 featured future Hall of Famers like Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton. This same draft also featured the one and only Sam Bowie, the big man from Kentucky. At 7'1" Bowie was thought to be the second best big man, a need for Portland, in the draft behind Olajuwon.
So the Blazers drafted for their need and took Bowie after the Rockets selected Olajuwon. Michael Jordan was then selected third to Chicago. (To Portland's credit they had a pretty good two-guard in Clyde Drexler but still . . .) Bowie would mostly fizzle as a pro due to a several injury-plagued seasons.
He retired in 1995 finishing his career with nearly 11 points scored a game and almost eight rebounds. A solid career, but not for the guy picked in front of Michael Jordan. Blazer fans felt the sting of the Bowie pick for two decades.
The Ghost of Blazers' Draft Present
The 2007 draft was a highly anticipated draft as well. Two big freshman names were entering the NBA, Texas swingman Kevin Durant and Ohio State's Greg Oden.
After Portland won the draft lottery the Blazers had a tough choice to make between the two. Again, they needed a big man to clog the middle, block shots and score in the paint.
Current Suns GM Steve Kerr, in an interview with Yahoo!, once called Oden "a once-in-a-lifetime" center. The Blazers already had a bevy of young swingmen --Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw, and LaMarcus Aldridge.
So Portland decided on Oden. However, Oden would never don a Blazers' jersey that season as he underwent knee surgery just months after the draft.
Blazer fans must have wondered if Oden was simply Bowie version 2.0 . in 2008 Oden made his long-awaited NBA debut and was injured in his first game.
He went scoreless in 13 minutes. Oden finished 2008-2009 with an average of almost nine points a game and seven rebounds while playing in 61 games.
The Ghost of Blazers' Future?
The 2009-10 season is filled with optimism for Portland and Oden. It marks the first time in his short career he would begin a season injury free.
At times in the pre-season Oden was dominating with several new low-post moves and was also able to stay out of foul trouble most nights--a huge plus for him.
It's never been a fair assesment to call Oden the next Sam Bowie. But when a player is drafted as a first or second overall pick he is expected to come in and dominate, and do it right away, every night.
In order for Oden to break free from the "bust" tag he will need to be a double-double type center this season. Barring injury he could be a sleeper at center for an All-Star bid. Greg Oden an all-star? Only time will tell. Oden's time is now.