The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Thoughts on Oden

Posted by disappointmentzone on 3 April 2007

There are a number of reasons why Gred Oden should forgo college to enter the NBA draft. The best reason is that staying in college, while not retarding his game, will certainly not provide him with the competition and challenges that the NBA will. If avoiding foul trouble while guarding players half his size is a marketable NBA skill (it isn’t) then there is an argument to be made that Oden could actually expand his skills while in college. But Monday’s game proved that there is no one in college who can challenge Oden in the way NBA player can challenge Oden. Florida threw three future NBA big men at Oden and all Oden did was dominate them like they were JV lackeys. If Oden stays in college at best he’ll be treading water.

By far the most popular rationale for Oden entering the NBA draft is that he’ll likely be the #1 pick. I don’t know how to put this any more clearly but: Where Oden is projected in the NBA draft should not influence his decision to stay in college.

Look, the only way Oden would ever slip out of the top three is if he injured himself severely. He’s insured while in college for $10 million, so there is some coverage for Oden should he stay and get hurt. But he could just as easily injure himself in the NBA — and is probably more likely to do serious damage in the NBA — and his rookie contract is not going to be for much more than $10 million — probably around $13 million, should he get hurt in his first three seasons.

Unlike in the NFL — where the rookie contract salary is not set by the league; where your first contract might be the biggest contract a player will sign; where a top pick can get over $25 million guaranteed — when you play in the NBA you are playing for your free agency contract. Unless Oden’s family is totally lacking money and he feels obligated to enter the NBA so that he can support his family, the money shouldn’t be that big of an issue, nor should where he’s being projected to go in the draft order.

The NBA isn’t the NFL. Being the #1 pick in the NBA draft isn’t even close to being productive in your first few NBA seasons, and Oden’s earning potential is not going to be dictated by where he goes in the draft. Being the likely #1 pick is more pomp and circumstance than substance.

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5 Responses to “Thoughts on Oden”

  1. Erik said

    This is my most compelling reason (if you’ve read my blog, I spell it out in more detail there):

    Oden was, for lack of a better term, babied through his freshman season. He didn’t play the first part of the season due to his hand injury, and then when he did, Thad Matta closely monitored his minutes because A) he knew Oden’s game conditioning wasn’t up to snuff due to the injury and B) Oden started getting into foul trouble early in games.

    In my opinion, Oden needs to make up for lost time at the college level next year. He needs a college season where the gloves come off and he is allowed to test his physical limits.

    How on Earth can Oden be ready for the NBA when he hasn’t even been allowed to go full-throttle at the college level yet? Anybody who watched Oden suck wind in the second half of the national title game can see he still has a ways to go before he’ll be able to flourish in the pro game.

  2. Haze said

    Windsprints would help.

  3. Ben said

    I think the conditioning argument has merits, but his offensive game needs work. Lord knows that there have been big men more raw than Oden to come out, but if he wants a basketball reason to stay, working on his offensive game isn’t a bad one.

  4. I’m not sure I agree with the conditioning/hasn’t-gone-full-throttle argument, or at least I don’t think it’s the most compelling reason for him to stay. If it weren’t for the new age limit rule Oden would have never gone full throttle at the college level. That he hasn’t done so now, or that he’s only done so in a couple of games, is not that big of a deal. It was obvious against Florida that there is probably no big man in college that is on par with Oden. If he stays in school next year 99% of the people he’ll face will be on a level far below Oden. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this would retard his progress, but he would probably become a better basketball player quicker if he went to the NBA.

    My point was that the financial reason for him to leave early, talked up as so compelling, really is not that compelling.

  5. Will said

    “…all Oden did was dominate them like they were JV lackeys.” Hah, well said.
    But like you said,”Being the likely #1 pick is more pomp and circumstance than substance.”, is really the key statement on this. Hopefully all goes well for Oden.

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