Toronto Raptors: Greg Oden or Andrea Bargnani, Who Is the Better Fit at Center?

Justin BoninAnalyst IMarch 29, 2011

DALLAS - FEBRUARY 04:  Greg Oden #52 of the Portland Trail Blazers during play against the Dallas Mavericks on February 4, 2009 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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What is the biggest similarity between Andrea Bargnani and Greg Oden?

Both of them were first overall picks that their teams regret, however, in their defense...

Bargnani is a great offensive center and he would be a good fit for a lot of teams, unfortunately, the Raptors just are not one of those teams.  As for Greg Oden, there really wasn't anything he could have done to prevent his injuries, and had he remained healthy, he certainly would have been a great well-rounded center in the NBA.  

That being said, in both cases, there were star caliber players chosen right after them.  Andrea Bargnani went one pick ahead of LaMarcus Aldridge in the 2006 NBA draft and Kevin Durant went one pick after Greg Oden in the 2007 NBA draft

In his time in the league, Bargnani’s accomplishments include: Making the NBA All-Rookie first team in 2007 and leading the Raptors in points per game and well…that is about all he has done in his first five years in the league.  As for his career averages they read as follows:

15.1 points per game

5.3 rebounds per game  

0.9 blocks per game

365 career games, playing an average of 30.3 minutes per game.

In Oden’s first four years since being drafted, he has been plagued by injuries and has only played the equivalent of one full season in his first four years in the league.  As for accomplishments, he has had microfracture surgery on both of his knees, and that is about it. 

If we look at his career stats up until now, which essentially total up to give us the equivalent of one full season of play (a rookie season at that), they read a little something like this…

9.4 points per game

7.3 rebounds per game

1.4 blocks per game

82 career games, playing an average of 22.1 minutes per game.

Now I know stats can be misleading, especially considering the fact that Bargnani has played in almost 300 more games than Oden and also averaged eight more minutes per game. 

That being said, the important thing I want everyone to take from this is the fact that Oden can actually rebound and protect the post, this is evident after only seeing him play in 82 NBA games.  On the other hand, in Bargnani’s first 365 NBA games, he has effectively proven to us that he cannot rebound or protect the paint at the NBA level and has cleverly attempted to mask his shortcomings by pretending like the only reason he does not rebound or play defense is because he does not have the desire too.

In Oden’s case, injuries have prevented him from putting his true talents on display and should Portland not take him up on his qualifying offer this summer, he will become an unrestricted free agent.  Albeit, if he were to become a free agent, he would certainly be a great pickup for any team since they could buy low (due to his history of injuries) on this high ceiling player (provided he can stay healthy).  

Although he has his risks, any team that acquires Oden really has nothing to lose provided they sign him to a reasonable contract and throw in a team option as protection should he continue to be plagued by injuries.

Ideally, I would want to sign him to a one or two-year contract with a team option just in case, and the contract would likely be $3.5 million or less with the possibility of a raise should he perform well and be re-signed by the team.

Nevertheless, there is one major reason why I cannot see Portland letting him go this offseason and here is why…

Similar to the Bargnani situation in Toronto, both teams can use their amazing powers of hindsight and realize that they made a mistake with both of their first overall picks, and honestly, who can blame them, things happen.

However, what is not okay is the fact that both teams are now trying to hold on to these guys as long as they can in the hopes that they will one day be able to play like a true first overall pick and essentially allow them to say “I told you so.”

Unfortunately, I do not see this happening in either team’s case since Oden will never outperform Kevin Durant and I doubt Bargnani will ever become as well-rounded and efficient a player as LaMarcus Aldridge.

That being said, I think it is about time that both teams forget about the possibility of having the “I told you so” moment and just move on.

For the Blazers, this means letting Oden go to free agency this offseason and for the Raptors, it means trading Andrea Bargnani.

Toronto needs to jump on Greg Oden.

Interestingly enough, when I mentioned earlier that Greg Oden would be a great low risk pickup for any team, the precise example I had in mind was the Toronto Raptors.

It is about time the Raptors trade their one dimensional bust of a first overall pick and take a risk and sign another first-round bust in Greg Oden, who should he work out, would be a much better fit for the Raptors than Andrea ever would. In other words, NBA teams will fear a frontcourt duo of Ed Davis and Greg Oden far more than a duo of Ed Davis and Andrea Bargnani (with his matador defense).

The Raptors certainly have the cap room, and if they sign him to a two-year contract with a team option, his contract would come off the books in the summer of 2013, which I predict will be the real turning point for the Raptors, as they attempt to re-sign DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon’s contract comes off the books.

As I stated in my last article,, 2013 will be make or break for the Toronto Raptors.

By summer 2013, the Raptors will have…

  • A fully-developed DeMar DeRozan (who will likely be an All-Star by then).
  • A fully-developed Ed Davis (who will be averaging a little over a double-double per game).
  • Three lottery picks from 2011, 2012 and 2013 (and honestly they have been drafting pretty well since the whole Bargnani conundrum so expect these to be solid players).
  • A great bench with Amir Johnson and James Johnson (should they re-sign him).
  • A ton of cap room to sign a player/players in free agency.
  • In addition, they will most likely have Sonny Weems and Jerryd Bayless. 
  • Moreover, should they follow my advice; they will have the option of re-signing Greg Oden after having two seasons to evaluate his performance.

If things work out with Oden, then that’s great, and if for some reason (likely injuries) things didn’t work out with Oden, then no sweat, just let his contract expire and it’ll be just like it never happened.

Make a move Bryan Colangelo/Bryan Colangelo’s replacement (I hope it is the latter), and take a risk by buying low on this high ceiling player (just like the Blue Jays did with Alex Gonzalez).


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