The Season in Review: Greg Oden

Today we look at the Centerpiece, Greg Oden.

If you haven't read the conversation guidelines for these threads, please take a look before commenting.

Greg Oden's 2008-09 stats follow.

Statistic

2008-2009

Games Played

61

Games Started

39

Minutes per Game

21.5

Points per Game

8.9

FG ATT per Game

5.8

Field Goal%

56.4%

3PT ATT per Game

0.0

Three-Point%

---

FT ATT per Game

3.7

Free Throw%

63.7%

Off Rebs per Game

2.8

Def Rebs per Game

4.2

Total Rebs per Game

7.0

Assists

0.5

Steals

0.4

Blocks

1.1

Turnovers

1.4

Personal Fouls

3.9

Effective FG%

56.4%

True Shooting%

59.9%

PER

18.1

Plus-Minus

+2.80

If you took a straw poll among NBA fans, perhaps even among Blazer fans, asking them to come up with a word to describe Greg Oden's season chances are you'd hear words like, "disappointing" or "uninspiring" or "substandard".  I guess perspective has something to do with it.  If you're just thinking "first overall pick, once-in-a-franchise center" you'd look at 9 points and 7 rebounds and shrug.  And you know what?  I'm not even going to bore you with talk about microfracture surgery, a year off, one year of college, etc.  I'm simply going to ask you to take a look at those overall numbers...overall rookie numbers.

They aren't bad.

Most of them are downright good, in fact.

If you were to show people those stats blind and say, "Our center did this as a rookie plus he's a legit 7-feet and well-built" most of them would reply, "Looks promising.  What do you want for him?"

Can't have him.  He's ours.

The number that surprised me the most was the 56.4% overall field goal percentage.  Like everybody else in the universe, I would describe Greg's offensive game (charitably) as raw.  Peruse your memory and I bet it seems to you like he missed most of the shots he threw up.  Not so.  That's a real center's percentage there.  "But that was mostly off of dunks!" you say.  So?!?  If he can get his percentage that high by dunking that means he's getting a whole lot of dunks to make up for those baby hooks he kept bricking.  A center who dunks that much?  That's goooood.  Most NBA pivots only dream of being able to throw it down at that rate.  It's not only helping his offense, it's helping ours.  And barring some kind of permanent injury this is as bad as his offensive game is ever going to be.

Less surprising was his rebounding.  2.8 offensive boards and 4.2 defensive in 21 minutes is phenomenal.  We haven't talked much about rebounding percentages, which are a measure of how many rebounds a player gets compared to the total available when he's on the court.  Oden's total rebounding rate is 20%, which means he gets his mitts on 1 out of every 5 missed shots.  By comparison Joel Przybilla's rebounding percentage this year was 22.8%, Dwight Howard's was 21.8%, and Tim Duncan has never reached 20% in his entire career.  Oden's offensive rebounding percentage easily tops all of the players just mentioned.  Again:  rookie season, somewhat hobbled, somewhat clueless...still produced.  Greg's rebounding helped us control the ball and the tempo with more success than we've had in any recent season.

The sore thumb sticking out is so obvious I barely need to mention it.  3.9 fouls in 21.5 minutes is not good.  Translate Greg's numbers into a relatively modest 36 minutes and you come up with 15 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game, which would have been a season worth notice.  But he couldn't have done that because he also would have ended up with 6.5 fouls.  I'm not a big "per minute" extrapolation guy but they're closer to the truth here than normal because Oden rarely came out of the game for lack of production.  Whistles did him in all year.

Greg ended up with a +2.8 PER advantage per 48 minutes against the average of his collective opponents, scoring easy victories in points and rebounds.  The team scored significantly better and performed better on the offensive glass when he was on the court.  The defense and defensive rebounding were better when he was off the court.  Naturally the team committed far more fouls and gave up more free throws when Greg was playing.

When matched up against Yao Ming in the playoffs Oden showed glimpses of his eventual power.  He threw his body against Yao and made him work hard.  Greg was quick enough to front him and strong enough to keep contact.  His improvement from opening night against the L*kers to those playoff moments was pronounced.  That more than anything ought to have Blazer fans excited.

This summer Greg needs to work on a couple back-to-the-basket moves on offense.  After getting his shot blocked regularly at the beginning of the season he learned how to get the ball over (and through) people with regularity.  Now he has to learn how to hit when he does so.  Even one reliable post move in addition to the dunk will do wonders for him, much as it opened up Shaq's game.  He also needs to work on correct defensive posture.  There will be a lot of footwork drills in Greg's future.

But that future is plenty bright.  There's zero chance that the Blazers will entertain offers for Greg at this point.  Providing his body holds out, he can go as far as his desire takes him.  They'll want to have a better idea how far that train runs before they start to figure out alternate routes.

What's your take on Oden's season?  Happy?  Disappointed?  A little of each for different reasons?  What do you expect from him next season?  How much of a difference-maker will he be in Portland's future? 

See more stats at 82Games.com and Basketball-Reference.com.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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