Greg Oden: Miami Heat Must Snatch Former No. 1 Overall Pick

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Greg Oden: Miami Heat Must Snatch Former No. 1 Overall Pick
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Greg Oden has not given up the dream of finally meeting those lofty expectations surrounding him when the Portland Trail Blazers took him No. 1 overall in the 2007 NBA Draft.

According to Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN, Oden wants to resume his NBA playing career, and a few teams have already expressed interest in him.

Nearly a year removed from his latest knee surgery, former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden has decided to resume his playing career, but is not planning to return to the NBA before the 2013-14 season, according to sources close to the situation.

Sources told ESPN.com that multiple teams already have expressed interest in signing Oden before the end of this season to a multiyear deal that would allow him to continue his rehab until he can get back on the court in training camp in the fall.

The draw to taking a risk on Oden isn't for everyone, but if your team could use a shot in the arm and has cap space and a roster spot to give, the lure of his potential makes him highly coveted.

However, with Oden comes the knowledge of his extensive injury history.

Since being drafted in 2007, Oden has played a total of 82 games in more than five-and-a-half seasons.

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ESPN.com's Henry Abbott gives us an interesting look at Oden's history, and how it could come back to haunt him.

Windhorst and Stein's story includes the eye-popping phrase "third microfracture surgery." Let that sink in. Although it's nothing like the sentence it once was, players who have had one microfracture are considered compromised. Three is a huge number.

Most concerning is that it is far from the total of his health troubles. In his short time in the public eye, he suffered a prolonged wrist injury that dogged him -- he shot free throws left-handed -- for an entire Ohio State season. In the NBA, his summer league was cut short by a tonsillectomy. An ankle problem, a foot problem, a fractured kneecap and a pernicious case of jumper's knee all caused him to miss NBA games as well.

And yet, in those games he has averaged 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in just 22.1 minutes, which could easily translate into 15-20 points and 12-15 rebounds per game if he could stay healthy enough to play about 35 minutes per game.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Oden offers the potential of an elite center if his rehab goes well, which Abbott also details in his article.

Despite some awkward moments, he made the Blazers vastly better. His amazing size was only part of the story. He also brought plenty of skill to the court. His scoring was efficient, his blocks were numerous, and his rebounding was some of the best in NBA history for a player so young.

On Dec. 5, 2009, Oden was carried out of his last NBA game with a fractured left patella -- and a PER that would finish the season in the league's top 10, between Chris Paul and Dirk Nowitzki. It wasn't a case of empty numbers either. The Blazers generally destroyed people with Oden on the floor -- outscoring opponents by almost nine points per 100 possessions when Oden played compared to three when he sat -- even though he glaringly had room to improve.

But the real question here is: Which team should take the risk by swooping in and snatching Oden before the others.

Why, the team that will be absolutely stacked even if he turns out to be a bust, and the one with a president with a history of risky moves.

The Miami Heat.

Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The Heat are simply so good that they can win it all for the next four or fives years even if Oden rides the bench with an injury.

The team also could have two open roster spots (per Windhorst and Stein), and team president Pat Riley has made a few risky moves like this in the past.

But think about the possibilities.

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Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James give this team an incredible Big Three, but if you throw the seven-footer into the mix and the team addresses its biggest weakness (rebounding), the possibilities are endless.

The Heat ranks 29th in the league in rebounds per game, and the biggest reason why is because the team doesn't have a true center. But if Oden comes in and becomes healthy, there is no doubt that he could help the team rebound, as well as score some points inside.

If you give the Heat an elite center and perhaps a true point guard, there wouldn't be a team in the league who could beat them.

Yes, it's a risk. But it's a risk worth taking, and the Heat need to take it before another team does.

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