Seems to be a some growing debate between the camps believing Oden should be brought off the bench and those believing he should start. I just wanted to chime in with my 2 cents worth. First of all Greg Odens talent and potential in my opinion is greater than Joel Pryzbillas. No knock at all on Pryzbilla whom I think is a great defensive center who brings energy and toughness. Pryzbilla also of course has experience that Oden does not have. Brandon, Blake, LMA all have played with Pryzbilla a lot more than Oden. All that being said I say you must start Oden.
You must start Oden because we drafted him not just as a project, not as just another 1st round pick but because he was the 7ft center of our future. Since this latest foot sprain there seems to be a movement to back off Oden, to give him less to worry about, to move him from starter to back-up. I think this is maybe subconciously a desire to protect him. Injury prone or Iron Man, this is not the correct path to player development in Odens case. If you still believe and I do, that Oden is our All-Star center of the future then you must give him the starting spot. The quicker our starters get used to Oden and Oden to playing with our starters the better.
Yes, it's been a rocky start, to say the least, for Greg Odens N.B.A. career. However I think the worst thing we could do would be lower our sites as to what Oden could mean to this team. Unless you've given up on Oden already, then in my opinion you must believe he is a starting center. Sure he's going to show you growing pains that you wouldn't see with Pryzbilla. An occasional missed assignment, some painful schoolings from the Yao's and Shaqs of the league. But that's the quickest, best way for Oden to learn. Keep in mind you will also see the occasional monster dunk from Oden. Hopefully the occasional fast forward flash to the complete package that hasn't yet arrived.
As far as the stanima and conditioning arguement, I agree that obviously Oden isn't in N.B.A. game shape yet. Coming off micro-fracture it might be a whole season or two until we see the complete 100% recovery of Oden. But if he is fatigued, or his stanima isn't what it should be then starting and playing is still the best way to improve that area. If fatigue and stanima are a problem then the responsibility is on Nate and coaching to monitor the starters minutes he is getting. If he's dangerously tired or fatigued sub him out. The old truth cliche is that you can get injured in 1 minute as a back-up, or 20 minutes as a starter. No way of predicting what might happen in any given moment on a basketball court.
The biggest danger I see in not starting Oden is the lowering of expectations. Whether people admit it or not I see it as putting the bubble wrap back around Oden. Bring him along slowly, let's let him catch up, lets take some pressure off him, let him develop his game against #2 centers instead of starters...Pop, pop, pop it's bubble wrap. Sure- talk to Oden during the game, limit his minutes to avoid dangerous fatigue, but with a talent like Odens you MUST let him play and to be the best and get better you must play against the best, that means being a starter. It was always the role projected for Oden and in my opinion still is.