Oden's Rookie Offensive Prowess: Updated

Greg Oden is characterized as a bust by many uneducated or biased members of the media.  On the contrary, when he was on the court, he had one of the best rookie seasons of any center to come into the league in the last 25 years.  We all know he was still recovering from microfracture surgery, never in shape, and injured twice during the year.  He fouled alot, which kept him out of games.  This is what the uneducated or biased observers focus on.

Let's focus on his offense, on the time he was on the court.  He gets characterized as raw and of limited effectiveness.  We'll compare him to the rookie years of other centers.  What do you want out of your center on offense?  I say two things: offensive rebounds and efficient shooting. 

Let's first compare Oden first to the greatest all-NBA centers to come into the league from 1984 thru 1999: Shaq, Hakeem, Robinson, and Ewing.  These players were all-NBA centers (top 3 centers in league) a combined total of 43 times, or an average of 11 times each.  Here's how Oden stacks up against these all-time greats in terms of offensive rebounding percentage:

  • Hakeem 16.9%
  • Oden 15.7%
  • Shaq 13.4%
  • Robinson 11.7%
  • Ewing 7.6%

So Oden was 2nd only to Hakeem amongst this illustrious group, and outstripped Shaq, Robinson, and Ewing.

Let's look now at shooting, using true shooting %, which factors in free throw shooting, as the metric.  Here's the results:

  • Oden 0.599
  • Robinson 0.597
  • Shaq 0.584
  • Olajuwon 0.564
  • Ewing 0.526

So Oden tops this list, again bettering Shaq and Robinson, and the rest of these 11-time all-NBAers.

Let's see, Oden the bust, coming in 2nd on o-rebounding and 1st in true shooting accuracy, against the four best centers of the last 25 years.

Now let's compare Oden to the top two post-2000 centers: Yao Ming and Dwight Howard.  As far as o-rebounding:

  • Oden 15.7%
  • Howard 12.2%
  • Ming 9.7%

So Oden's o-rebounding rate is 29% better than Howard's and far outstrips Ming's.

As far as shooting:

  • Oden 0.599
  • Howard 0.571
  • Ming 0.570

Again, Oden is above his peers, the best Eastern and Western conference centers.

And remember, Oden did all of this -- placing highly against 11-time all-NBA centers and outstripping his two best peers -- while recovering from microfracture surgery, never in shape, and injured twice during the year.



I've seen the comments about the other players being more of a focus on offense than Oden.  This is mostly true.  It is reflected in the Usage Percentage (USG%) metric.  It represents the percent of a teams offensive plays that involves a player while on the court.  It factors in field goal attempts, free throw attempts, and turnovers.

The USG% for the players are:

Shaq 27.0%

Robinson 26.6%

Ewing 26.5%

Hakeem 23.5%

Ming 22.1%

Oden 19.3%

Howard 16.7%

Oden is toward the bottom of the list.  His team ran the offense thru him only about 2/3 as often as did Shaq's, Robinson's, and Ewing's.

Let's now look at what the players did with the offensive opportunities they got.  The first metric I developed is PER/USG%.  PER is an overall measure of effectiveness, especially offensive, per minute played.  Here's how this metric works out:

Howard 1.030

Robinson 0.989

Oden 0.938

Ming 0.932

Hakeem 0.898

Shaq 0.848

Ewing 0.657

So Oden didn't have as much of the offense run thru him, but he is 3rd in this metric, and did well with the opportunities he was presented.

Another metric that tries to get at the same thing is points per 36 minutes plus o-rebounds per 36 minutes, divided bu USG%.  This tries to factor in scoring and o-rebounds, and adjust it for offensive opportunities.  These are the two factors I think are key for a center on offense.  The results are:

Hakeem 1.119

Robinson 1.034

Howard 1.024

Oden 1.005

Shaq 0.970

Ming 0.891

Ewing 0.860

You can see that Oden is in the middle of the pack, and above Shaq, Ming, and Ewing, and within 3% of Howard and Robinson.  So again, Oden did alright with the offensive opportunities he was presented.

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