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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Pro/Con: Who should be the No. 1 in the NBA draft?

    It’s no contest: Draft Oden first
    Ari Wasserman

    In 1984 the Portland Trail Blazers may have made the biggest mistake in NBA Draft history when they selected Sam Bowie from Kentucky at No. 2, passing on a kid from North Carolina named Michael Jordan.

    Now the Blazers have the No. 1 overall pick in the draft for the first time since 1978, but the decision doesn’t get much easier. Do you draft Ohio State’s Greg Oden or Texas’s Kevin Durant?

    Unless the Blazers want to become known as the team that passed up on two NBA superstars for duds in the draft (or, the dumbest team in NBA history), the choice is a no brainer: draft Greg Oden.

    Although Oden looks like a 60-year-old LeBron James, he has great size and stature, something Durant doesn’t. Oden is a 7-foot, 260-pound man-child, and although he is only 19, he has an NBA-ready body.

    Sure, Durant can shoot a 3-pointer, but it is true what they say: “”defense wins championships.””

    Oden averaged 3.3 blocks per game, in addition to showing an uncanny ability to clear the paint. Oh yeah, I forgot – he did it without the aid of both hands, predominately using his left, non-dominant hand.

    After having surgery on his right wrist last June, Oden went on to have a monster season, averaging 15.7 points a game and 9.6 rebounds wearing a protective cast.

    The 7-footer rarely used his dominant hand, hitting finger-rolls in the lane with ease from his left, and dropping 62.3 percent of his free throws like he has been shooting them lefty his entire life.

    But the bottom line isn’t always stats, even though they are quite impressive for a one-handed man.

    The reason why the Blazers must go with Oden was proven in college, as he led Ohio State to its first NCAA Tournament championship game appearance since 1962.

    The Blazers already have a solid backcourt that includes Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy, and there is much need for a dominant center.

    Combined with Roy, Oden will be able to put a postseason-caliber team on the court in Portland this season, something Durant would not be able to accomplish.

    Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard said the main goal is to return to the post-season, and if he has any desire to get back on the playoff train next season, Oden is the ticket.

    Statistics say it all: Durant should be picked No. 1
    Lance Madden

    My goodness, why is the decision between Kevin Durant and Greg Oden such a controversy? The choice is so obvious. Durant should be the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft for so many reasons.

    And I promise I won’t make a joke about how old Oden looks, even if he did help James Naismith invent basketball in 1891.

    Damn. Sorry.

    But in all seriousness, the difference is evident. Let’s go back to Durant’s early days.

    He learned the ropes of the game as an high schooler at Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy, which has produced a myriad of NBA stars including Carmelo Anthony and Jerry Stackhouse, before transferring back home to Maryland. Then he went to college at Texas and became the recipient of more than 10 Player of the Year awards as a freshman.

    Oden attended Lawrence North in Indiana before he went to Ohio State.

    Cricket. Cricket.

    Now let’s look at the college stats and observe the fact that Durant outperformed Oden in every category save for blocking (1.9 per game to 3.3) and field-goal percentage (.473 to .616). Durant averaged a double-double and was able to hit NBA-range 3s with regularity. Oden couldn’t be relied on from more than a few feet away from the bucket.

    But our poor Gregory broke his wrist in the beginning of the season and that accounts, for his lower numbers. Sorry, folks. Stats are stats.

    In the end, both guys will end up in the top two of the draft. Both will fill their pockets immediately and become instant American idols. The fact that Oden has already met with Nike executives in Portland about a shoe contract, and on June 19, went back to Portland for a workout and a physical doesn’t make Durant’s chances any better.

    But it’s the consolation prizes that will please him should the old man beats him out for No. 1.

    Being on the cover of EA Sports’s NCAA March Madness 2008 isn’t bad. (Oden isn’t pretty enough for the gig.)

    Being named to the USA National Basketball Olympic team isn’t too shabby, either.

    Signing his first professional contract with the Upper Deck card company isn’t bad, considering he’s in company with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

    And despite being statistically and aesthetically suited for the No.1 pick in the draft, No. 2 isn’t bad, either.

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