It has recently been reported that former NBA player Greg Oden is nearing a decision on which team to sign with. The San Antonio Spurs are one of teams that could possibly land the big man this offseason (via Jeff Goodman and Marc Stein of ESPN).
For those who aren't familiar with Oden, he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft and was picked one spot ahead of superstar forward Kevin Durant. Unlike Durant, Oden never really developed and a multitude of knee problems kept him from being able to step onto the court again.
After being drafted, he missed the entire 2007-08 season and only played in a total of 82 games from 2008 to 2010 before succumbing to even more injuries. He hasn't played in the league since.
However, that doesn't mean he can't play anymore and the Spurs have nothing to lose if they take a chance at signing him for a season.
Still a Young Center with Huge Potential
Putting injuries aside and looking at the big picture, Oden is a behemoth. He's a legitimate 7-footer, weighing around 250 pound, capable of pounding against the biggest and toughest centers in this league. That alone makes him worth developing because he could potentially grow into a dominant force in the paint in an era where traditional centers are a dying breed.
Oden is also only 25 years old and is just starting to enter his prime. Although he hasn't played an NBA game in three and a half years, he will be learning in one of the best organizations in professional sports.
Tim Duncan, a first-ballot Hall of Famer and arguably the best power forward in the history of the league, can tutor the young center and help him get back on his feet.
There's a reason why Oden was the consensus No. 1 overall pick back in 2007, and it was because he had the talent and size to become a franchise-changing center. Injuries have slowed him down, but the Spurs organization would be the perfect place to help him rejuvenate his career.
Effective In the Games In Which He Appeared
In his 2008-09 rookie season with the Portland Trail Blazers, Oden played in 61 games and produced very efficiently when he was the floor. He averaged 8.9 points per game and 7.0 rebounds per game on 56.4 percent shooting from the field in just 21.5 minutes per game (per Basketball Reference). He also registered a solid PER of 18.1 along with a total rebounding rate of 20.0.
In 2009-10, Oden only appeared in 21 games but he was very effective in them. Per 36 minutes, he averaged 16.7 PPG, 12.8 RPG and 3.4 blocks per game while shooting a remarkable 60.5 percent from the field. He posted a stellar PER of 23.5 in those 21 games before his season was cut short once again.
From those numbers, we can already make one assumption: Oden has the talent to play. Even though he was struggling with injuries during that portion of his career, there's no question that he has the potential to become much better than he has previously shown. The only question is if he can keep himself healthy long enough to develop that talent.
Low Risk, High Reward Signing
The risk-reward ratio isn't as attractive as the Cleveland Cavaliers signing Andrew Bynum to a two-year deal worth up to $24 million with only $6 million of it guaranteed (via ESPN), but Oden will not be demanding a huge amount of money, especially with his resume.
Bynum had one great healthy season but it was enough to pull doubters out of their seats. Oden, on the other hand, hasn't even had one great season because he was never able to stay healthy for that long.
Either way, the Spurs would get a 25-year-old former No. 1 overall pick for pennies. If Oden can play the way scouts thought he would play a few years ago, then the signing would be a steal. Even if he can't play and suffers even more injuries in the future, then the Spurs don't really lose much of anything because they are already committed to Tiago Splitter for the next few years.