When the Portland Trail Blazers drafted Greg Oden first overall in 2007, they never expected to have to replace him so soon, but now they find themselves being obligated to do so for the sake of the franchise.
As a dominant big man at Ohio State, Oden seemed like the perfect pick for the Portland Trail Blazers until he was forced to sit the entirety of the 2007-2008 season in order to get arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
As a result, Oden made his professional debut on opening day a season later. Oden’s performance was decent, but no where near that of a first overall pick. He played 61 games and averaged 8.9 points per game.
Last season, however, Oden was limited to only 21 games because of yet another injury—this time on his left knee. He was forced to undergo surgery on his fractured left patella and missed the rest of season.
So, now the Trail Blazers face a difficult decision; should they draft another center since Oden hasn’t panned out?
Drafting a center would be great for two reason: depth and competition. This year’s draft is full of talented centers, many of whom could provide quality minutes in case Oden can’t stay healthy or needs more rest. If Oden does manage to stay healthy, then it also works out because another center could provide him with competition that may inspire him to achieve his potential.
Portland is stuck towards the back end of the first round with the 22nd pick, but should still be able to get a first-rate big man.
Kansas Center Cole Aldrich would be a viable option if he were to drop as far as 22nd or the Trail Blazers might trade up. Aldrich averaged 11.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game with the Jayhawks, not to mention in 2009 he became the latest college basketball player to have a triple double in the NCAA Tournament. He was the first center with double digit blocks since Shaquille O’Neil.
Larry Sanders might be a more realistic option if the Trail Blazers decided to draft a center in the first round. The 6’11 Virginia Commonwealth big man averaged 14.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.
The Trail Blazers also have the opportunity to draft a decent center in the early second round with the 32nd overall pick in the draft. If they decided to do that, their best choice would be to pick Kevin Seraphin of France or Soloman Alabi from Florida State.
The alternatives are infinite for the Trail Blazers, but the decision needs to be made to draft a center for the future of the organization considering Greg Oden's injury problems.
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