The Miami Heat may have had the biggest steal of the summer by signing former number one pick Greg Oden. Oden, who was picked ahead of Kevin Durant by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2007 NBA Draft, has averaged 9.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg and more importantly 1.4 blkpg. This is a small sample size though, considering he has only played 82 games in the span of six years.
When healthy, Oden can have a major impact on defense in terms of size alone. Listed at 7-foot, Oden’s height gives him a distinct advantage in terms of blocking the rim. One of the biggest Achilles heals for the Heat since the formation of the Big Three has been their lack of size in the paint. The Heat have struggled against larger teams like the Chicago Bulls and the Indiana Pacers, and that is just in the Eastern Conference. With Dwight Howard fleeing to the Houston Rockets and other teams in the West stacking up on size, the road to a three-peat for the Heat will be a most difficult one.
One thing has been made clear by the Heat organization in terms of signing Oden; his assimilation into the line-up will be a slow one. With three micro-fracture knee surgeries under his belt, Oden is being treated like a ticking time bomb when it comes to actual playing time. Even with all of these issues, this signing is a win-win for the Heat. By convincing Oden to sign a two-year, $1.03 million contract they save themselves financial devastation if Oden’s health doesn’t hold. If Oden is even able to play at 75 percent of what he used to, though, he would add a dynamic to the Heat that could make them even more difficult to play against.
Oden’s journey through the NBA has a very harsh one. Considered one of the bigger draft busts in recent memory, this could be Oden’s last chance to show the world he still has it in him to actually finish out a season. The Heat offered him the best chance to win a championship, with little to no pressure on how or when he performs. Hopefully Oden’s knees can sustain the rigors of playing in the NBA again.