Blazers face another tough decision with injury-plagued Oden

Frank Hughes

The Portland Trail Blazers had a difficult decision to make a few years
ago when they had the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft: Should they take
Greg Oden or Kevin Durant?

After making Oden the top pick that year, the Blazers now have another
tough decision. For how long, and for how much, are they willing to
invest in Oden?

After two major injuries have limited the former Ohio State star to just 82 games over three seasons, it could be prudent to ask if Oden will ever be the player the Blazers — and everybody else in the league, for that matter — thought he would be. And if he is not, how long do the Blazers disillusion themselves into thinking he will be?

After all, these are not mundane injuries that Oden has suffered. He played zero games his first year in the league because he had microfracture surgery on his right knee. In his second season, Oden sustained a foot injury in his first game that kept him out for two weeks, then chipped his kneecap when he collided with Golden State’s Corey Maggette. He appeared in 61 games overall.

And just as Oden was beginning to play this season at the level the Blazers anticipated, he broke that left kneecap without even getting hit on Dec. 5 against Houston. He is expecting to miss the rest of the season (though Oden said last week that he hoped to return for the playoffs).

It appears as if Oden is a bust, the calamity of untimely injuries derailing his career before it even got started, the second coming of Sam Bowie, whose body betrayed him — and the Blazers — in the same fashion in the ’80s. But the Blazers don’t view Oden as the next Bowie, the player taken ahead of Michael Jordan in the 1984 draft, a time when Portland already had Clyde Drexler and did not want to duplicate the position.

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