The Miami Heat have agreed to invest in reviving the career of former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden. The two-time defending champions have a slow, structured plan for returning Oden to the rigors of the NBA. He will be specifically used for his disruptive defensive presence and can be brought along slowly with the majority of the Heat team returning next season. The methodical approach for the Heat will be the best option for them to keep Oden on the court instead of in the hospital. The question is, why?
After a grand total of three microfracture surgeries, the most recent being last February, it’s hard to imagine I’m talking about a 25-year-old’s body. Oden’s career in the NBA has amounted to a total of 82 games since 2007. During his games with the Portland Trail Blazers, he put up 11.1 points per game, to go along with 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. For a player worthy of the No. 1 pick, those numbers are OK at best. After four years of injuries, does anyone expect Oden to produce at that level again? Not even close.
This experiment with Oden will burn the Heat in the end, no pun intended. Oden will either sit on the bench as a member of the team, or an injured member of the team. Only time will tell how his body will react to playing a game that has rendered him physically unable to perform since 2009. The Heat have a surplus of talent that surrounds him, so there’s really no pressure for Oden to produce. No matter how much confidence he has in those brittle legs, nothing will hit him harder than live game action.
In Portland, he was quite demonstrative on the defensive end, fouling his opponent at least four times in 23 minutes per game. The Heat will not only have to coddle him physically, but they will have to school him in the fine art of playing smarter basketball.
Miami offers a winning and stable atmosphere for a perpetually-injured player. The deal is only good for Miami because they get a big presence on the defensive end, if he’s able to play, that is. The bad part of the deal is they are going to pay him to produce very little, and sit a whole lot. Oden gets to move to South Beach, add to his jewelry collection and get paid to sit court-side at every Miami Heat game. That sounds like a pretty sweet gig to me.