Monday, September 28, 2009

Trailblazers Position Breakdown: Center

So many questions have surrounded Greg Oden since his micro fracture surgery in 2007. Would he recover, would he stay healthy, and would he be the once in a (basketball) generation center that so many saw coming out of Ohio State? Greg Oden is an intimidating presence in the middle. There is no question about that. He has all the tools to be a defensive and rebounding monster. His offensive game seemed limited, yet if all he did was get garbage points on putback dunks and ally oops, there is enough scoring around him I can totally live with that. Ultimately, Greg Oden is still what the Blazers need in the middle. The exciting part that many in the national media seem to forget: Last year was his first year, he was injured and he's going to get much, much better. How much better? That remains to be seen, but it's not like Shaq was much more physically dominating, nor did he have much more of an offensive repertoire than Oden showed last year. The only difference was that he came in as the focal point for the Magic offense, while Greg came in after micro fracture, less heralded and with more talent around him. If Greg Oden can stay out of foul trouble and stay on the court, it already gives us a top 10 center manning the middle. Really, good centers are that rare. If he shows similar explosiveness, quickness and conditioning to his Ohio State persona, the Blazers will be in very, very good shape. Greg's prorated stats alone, if he didn't improve over his sometimes awkward looking presence on the floor, would be very good numbers. If Greg is able to keep his same production in just 30 minutes a game, that averages out to 12.4 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.5 BPG. Not hall of fame numbers yet, but productive center numbers, and again, he will get better. What if Greg continues to struggle with fouls and or injuries? There is always Joel Przybilla with his blue collar shirt and hard hat waiting and ready for work. Przybilla is that player that is willing to do the dirty work, to battle and scrap. The guy willing to be an enforcer and intimidator when need be. It has to be questioned as to whether there is a better one two punch at center in the league. Many teams would like to have just one of the Blazer bigs on their roster, but with two potential starters on one team, that's something special. But while Joel's defensive game can not really be questioned, you cannot expect much more than spot garbage points here and there on offense. I often wonder if Joel spends time working on his offensive game, because I sometimes see flashes of one come out, albeit it very rarely. If Joel could be a legitimate threat for 10 points a night, he'd be all the more valuable. Behind the top two, Lamarcus Aldridge will probably see spot minutes at the five, especially if Joel or Greg happen to go down with an injury. Beyond that, Juwan Howard could also fill in here if necessary, and the Blazers can look forward to Jeff Pendergraph possibly playing later in the year after recovering from hip surgery and being a possible long term option down the road. Overall, the Blazers have one of the best rotations in the league, but if Greg Oden is able to bust out and become more than a garbage man down low and become a viable scoring option, he could be the key to the Blazers making a deep playoff run come June. 2009-2010 Center Position Grade: A-

1 comment:

  1. Joel does have offensive moves, but you have to have the confidence to take those shots.
    Currently, I think we have a top 5 Center duo in the L and will be the best if Oden comes out strong this season.
    The only nick I can see is if Joel gets frustrated with less playing time. I sure hope not, because he can opt out after this year.