Some would say that the Greg Oden’s ability to even play a single minute this season is a huge success in its own right. When the Miami Heat signed Oden this offseason, they had a more in-depth plan, one that involved Oden contributing at a higher level for the Heat’s frontcourt well into the end of the regular season and the playoffs.
Timeline-wise, everything has gone according to plan for the Heat organization. Oden has remained healthy and is now a part of the starting lineup. Because of this, higher production is expected, and Oden hasn’t exactly delivered.
In Oden’s last five games, in which he started three, he has averaged a measly 2.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.0 blocks. This is all while averaging 11 minutes a game, which isn’t exactly very proficient. Oden seems to still be very out of sync with the Heat’s defensive schemes, often losing players near the rim, allowing for completely open looks from the opponent.
On the offensive side of the ball, the only time Oden is able to score is when he gets the ball wide open at the rim, where he typically dunks it.
The Heat have won all three games that Oden has started, which is the only dynamic positive you can pull away from his insertion into the starting lineup. Oden has the ability to affect shooters at the rim due to his size, but that game plan can only work for so long. When matched up against centers who can shoot well from mid-range or drive the ball, Oden is too slow-footed to get back to the rim to defend it, which usually allows for a blow-by layup or dunk.
The verdict still isn’t out on whether the Oden experiment is a success. Being able to even play after four years away from the game should be a deemed a victory in its own right, but because of the Heat’s high expectations, that won’t be enough. Higher production will be sought from Oden once the playoffs arrive, and whether or not he is able to produce will be one of many factors that determine the Heat’s fate in their run at a three-peat.