Ball Don't Lie - NBA

I'm not sure why no one has ever done this before, but let's compare the extraordinarily young careers of Greg Oden(notes) and Kevin Durant(notes). These two guys were drafted Nos. 1 and 2 in the 2007 draft, so it is pretty odd that no one contrasts the various successes and failures of their time in the NBA. That's just strange to me.

Here are the YertNotes on their careers, for comparison:

• Kevin Durant was the youngest scoring champion in the history of the NBA, and pretty much everyone thinks he's the best superstar in the NBA and that he's really super cool.

• Greg Oden is a big-time waste of a draft pick because he has played 82 games in three seasons and his legs are made of graham crackers.

That's the back-of-the-envelope thinking on these two guys and because of that, people love to call Greg Oden a bust.

Greg Oden, as you might expect, disagrees. Here's what he told Joe Freeman of The Oregonian:

"Is there any proof that I'm a bust?" Oden said. "All there is proof of is that I have bad luck with injuries. When I was out there on the floor, I think I did pretty good for myself. I've never really had enough time to play and actually improve. I think last year at the beginning of the year I did OK, started to head down that path. Unfortunately I had an injury. But I've prepared myself all summer to be an All Star and be as healthy as I can be and I'm going to keep doing that until I'm able to do that ..."

Greg Oden is wise beyond his years, probably because he looks way older than he really is. (Why does no one ever mention that either?) But really, I think he's completely right about everything that he said. He's right in that he's had bad luck with injuries, obviously. But he's also right when he said he "did OK" to start last year.

In fact, he did way better than OK. PER might not be the best statistical measure in the history of the world, especially for a guy like Oden who makes huge contributions on the defensive end of the floor, but Oden's PER last season was 23.1. Dwight Howard's(notes) was 24.0. During his 21 games last year, he grabbed one out of every five available rebounds while he was on the court. So did Dwight Howard. Per 36 minutes, Dwight scored 19 points. Greg scored 16.7. That's a lot of stats in your face, but Dwight Howard is the gold standard for NBA centers these days and Greg Oden compares pretty favorably.

Oh, and by the way, he's 22 years old. He might have the worst injury luck in the world, but he's bound to have a healthy season sometime even if it's just on accident. If he does, he's going to be one of the better centers around. Ergo, when he says he's not a bust, we should probably nod our heads in agreement.

(Stat-festival courtesy of Basketball-Reference)

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