Oden's second year was cut short by injury, and he had barely seemed to get into a groove before he went down. However, statistically, he had one of the most outstanding sophomore seasons among centers in the NBA over the past thirty years. The bottom line is that, statistically (on a per minute basis which ignores his injury and foul problems) he was competitive with Shaq, Robinson, and Hakeem -- the all-time great centers of the last 3 decades -- ranking above them in many stat categories important to centers. He was significantly better than Howard.
I went to basketball-reference.com, and searched for 2nd year centers since 1980 that played more than 20 games and more than 20 minutes/game. There were 211 players on the list.
I looked at advanced stat categories that you want a center to do well in:
- Overall: PER, Win Shares/48 Minutes
- Offense: TS%, EFG%, ORtg
- Rebounding: ORB%, DRB%, TRB%
- Defense: BLK%, DRtg
The tables below show how Oden ranked, as well as how the all-time great centers -- Shaq, David Robinson, and Hakeem -- ranked in their second seasons. I also included Dwight Howard as today's greatest center.
- Table 1 shows the absolute ranking of Oden and the other four centers among the 211 centers on the list.
- Table 2 shows where each of the five centers ranked when compared among themselves: 1 thru 5.
- Table 3 shows the number of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th places for each of the five great centers.
- Oden had the 4th best sophomore season stats based on PER, behind only Shaq, Robinson, and Hakeem. Oden was also 4th in WS/48, behind Robinson and Shaq.
- Oden ranked well above Howard in all categories except rebounding, where they were both in the top 4.
- Oden shot better than all four other centers.
- Oden outrebounded the other centers, except defensively, where he was slightly behind Howard.
- Oden was a better shot blocker than all four other centers.
- Oden was better than all but Shaq in ORtg.
- Oden was better than all but Robinson in DRtg.
- Oden was 1st in 5 categories and 2nd in 3 more categories, meaning he was 1st or 2nd in 8 of the 10 categories. Robinson had 2 1st and 3 2nd, while Shaq had 2 1st and 2 2nd.
- While Oden was generally the best of the bunch in terms of most high rankings, Howard was the worst, with 6 5th places.
Table 1: Oden and Other Great Centers Ranking Among 211 Second Year Centers