LeBron James and 'Long Lost Brother' Greg Oden Pose for Workout Instagram Pic

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2013

Returning from a three-year, rehab-filled hiatus from professional basketball isn't easy—especially when that return means trying to keep pace with LeBron James and his defending champion Miami Heat.

Fortunately for Greg Oden, James is already keeping him some company as a workout partner.

Me and @daddyluv2250 aka My long lost brother aka G.O. G.O. Comeback #HeatNation #OffSeasonIsMySeason #OhioBoyz minus @n_coleworld by @kingjames

When it comes to workout partners, no one's better than James. He famously spent time training with Kevin Durant in the summers of 2011 and 2012, proving some things transcend even the most elite rivalries. Is this Greg Oden's "Hell Week"?

The Heat signed Oden for just over a million bucks this offseason, including a 2014-15 player option worth slightly more.

The No. 1 overall pick from 2007 has suffered through numerous setbacks and three microfracture surgeries in the time since his NBA introduction. After just 61 games of solid play in 2008-09—Oden's de facto rookie season thanks to the first of those surgeries—the seven-footer began hitting his stride a season later, averaging 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds in almost 24 minutes a game.

Unfortunately, he only played in 21 of those games in 2009-10, this time due to a fractured patella.

But before taking his extended leave of absence from NBA life, Oden managed to demonstrate at least some of the potential that originally moved the Portland Trail Blazers to select the big man just ahead of Durant in 2007. Besides proving himself a legitimate double-double threat, Oden blocked 2.3 shots a game.

Though Miami probably won't get enough minutes out of Oden to yield that kind of production, he'll serve as a rim protector for limited stretches. When facing big guys like Roy Hibbert, Oden's an intriguing alternative to Chris "Birdman" Andersen. Hard as it is to imagine Oden living up to that kind of energy, he's an intelligent center who knows how to use his size.

Thanks to making fast friends with Mr. James, he might even be able to use that size for more than 10 minutes a game.