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Whether it’s fair or not, Greg Oden will forever be tied with Kevin Durant.
The Portland Trail Blazers' streak of bad No. 1 selections continued when it took the Ohio State center with the first overall pick in 2007.
Oden showed up in Columbus, Ohio, already a household name and continued his dominance at the college level. During his one season with the Buckeyes (2006-07), Oden averaged 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and more than three blocked shots per contest.
His counterpart, Kevin Durant, flourished as well during his one college campaign with the Texas Longhorns. He was named the 2007 Naismith College Player of the Year while averaging a double-double (25.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG).
Going into the 2007 draft, Oden and Durant were pitted against each other in countless conversations on who Portland should take first.
Scouts suggested that Durant had a scorer's mentality and could put one in the bucket at any time. Oden, however, was seen as the more dominant all-around player who could be a defensive force by blocking shots and filling lanes.
It was a tough choice, but the Trail Blazers settled on Oden, thinking he was too good to pass up.
Unfortunately, Oden’s knees failed. He played only 82 games over a five-season span in Portland, averaging 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
Portland cut him during the regular season, and he has publicly stated that he plans to sit out the entire 2012-13 campaign to rehab.
What happened with Durant? Other than reaching the NBA Finals with the Oklahoma City Thunder this season, he has racked up three scoring titles, evolved into a superstar and transformed OKC into one of the “elite” franchises in the NBA...and he's just 23.
At 24, Oden could still land on another NBA team and flourish, but at this point, it’s hard to tell where his career will go. Portland missed the boat again.
Only time will tell if the franchise can find that superstar that has eluded them all these years.