FanPost

Greg Oden’s On-Court Performance: Among the All-Time Greats

Greg Oden is an enigmatic player to evaluate.  He came into the league hyped as a once in a generation center.  His play has been most noted for the trouble he has had staying on the court due to injuries (82 games played in three years, two knee operations) and foul trouble (6.4 fouls per 36 minutes for his career).  He was supposed to challenge Dwight Howard as the next dominant center.  He was chosen over Kevin Durant, who led the league in scoring in his third year and has missed ten games in three years.

What do advanced statistics say about Oden’s play when he is on the court?  When he has been on the court, has he played like a once in a generation center?  How does he compare to Dwight Howard and Kevin Durant, two players to whom he likely will always be compared?

Analyzing advanced statistics from Basketball-Reference.com reveals that in his playing time on the court, he has played exceptionally well, and that he holds his own against both Dwight Howard and Kevin Durant.  This may surprise many who have focused on his problems staying on the court.

Advanced statistics indicate that when he has been on the court, he has been one of the two best players to enter the league this decade, that he compares favorably to the greatest centers of the last thirty years, and that he compares favorably to the greatest rebounders of all time.  This indicates that if he can be relatively injury-free, and get his fouling under control, he just might be that once in a generation center he was hyped to be.

The following summarizes Oden’s performance on the court to date:

  • Greg Oden is one of the two best players to come into the NBA in the last ten years according to comprehensive advanced statistics.  (Hint: the other is LeBron).
  • Greg Oden’s second year advanced stats compare favorably with those of the all-time great centers of the last thirty years: Shaq, David Robinson, Hakeem (and Dwight Howard).
  • Greg Oden's rookie year rebounding compares well with the rookie years of some of the greatest rebounders of all time.
  • Greg Oden was a top five big man – or better – when he was on the court last year.
  • Greg Oden’s 2009-2010 advanced statistics compare well with those of three-time NBA all-star, two-time NBA defensive player of the year, three-time all-NBA team member Dwight Howard.
  • Greg Oden was ranked higher in more advanced statistical categories last year than NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant, the 1st team all-NBA team player the Trail Blazers could have taken instead.

Go below the Jump for the details...

1.    Greg Oden is one of the two best players to come into the NBA in the last ten years according to comprehensive advanced statistics.  (Hint: the other is LeBron).

Compare Oden’s second year to all other players coming into the NBA since the year 2000 using two comprehensive per-minute stats:   “Win Shares Per 48 Minutes” (WS/48) and “Player Efficiency Rating” (PER).

▸    He is first in WS/48, with a rating of 0.214, ahead of LeBron with 0.203.
    (Documentation at: www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=OEapR)

▸    He is second in PER, with a rating of 23.1, behind only LeBron (25.7) and slightly ahead of D Wade (also 23.1).  Seven other second-year players from CP3 to Durant ranged from 22.0 to 20.8.  


    (Documentation at: www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=GQrug)

2.    Greg Oden’s second year advanced stats compares favorably with those of the all-time great centers of the last thirty years: Shaq, David Robinson, Hakeem (and Dwight Howard).

Look at the advanced stat categories in which you want a center to do well:

▸    Overall: PER, Win Shares/48 Minutes
▸    Offense: TS%, EFG%, ORtg
▸    Rebounding: ORB%, DRB%, TRB%
▸    Defense: BLK%, DRtg

Compare Oden to all second year centers to enter the NBA in the last thirty years that played in more than 20 games and played more than 20 minutes per game.  Highlight how Oden compares to the all-time great centers of the last three decades – Shaq, David Robinson, and Hakeem – and include Dwight Howard as today's greatest center.

Key conclusions:

▸    Overall:  Among all 2nd year centers, Oden had the 4th best sophomore season based on PER (behind only Shaq, Robinson, and Hakeem) and 3rd best based on WS/48 (behind Robinson and Shaq).

▸    Comparing Oden to Shaq, David Robinson, Hakeem, and Howard:    
    •    Offense
        -    Oden shot better than all four other centers.
        -    Oden was better than all but Shaq in ORtg.
    •    Rebounding
        -    Oden outrebounded the other four centers, except defensively, where he was slightly behind Howard.
    •    Defense
        -    Oden was a better shot blocker than all four other centers.
        -    Oden was better than all but Robinson in DRtg.
    •    Create a 1 to 5 ranking for these centers for the ten categories listed above, and compare Oden to the others:
        -    Oden ranked first overall, with five 1st and three 2nd.  He was first or second in 8 of the 10 categories.
        -    Robinson ranked second overall, with two 1st and three 2nd.
        -    Shaq ranked third overall, with two 1st and two 2nd.
        -    Oden ranked well above Howard in all categories except rebounding, where they were both in the top 4.  While Oden was generally the best of the bunch in terms of most high rankings, Howard was the worst, with 6 5th places.


(Documentation at: www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=vTWtj)

3.    Greg Oden’s rookie year rebounding compares well with the rookie years of some of the greatest rebounders of all time.

The following table compares rookie year stats for some of the all time great rebounders.  Old timers Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Nate Thurmond are not on the list, because their play predated these stats.  They'd probably be at the top.  The list is sorted by ORB%, because ORs are less common and more important.

Player                    ORB%    DRB%    TRB%
Olajuwon               16.9%    20.4%    18.7%
Oden                       15.7%    24.5%    20.0%
Rodman                 15.6%    15.3%    15.5%
Moses Malone       15.5%    23.6%    19.7%
Buck Williams       13.7%    26.6%    20.1%
Shaq                        13.4%    27.1%    20.6%
Barkley                    12.9%    20.8%    16.9%
Dwight Howard     12.2%    22.2%    17.3%
David Robinson    11.7%    24.8%    18.5%
Duncan                   10.5%    23.8%    17.6%

For offensive rebounds, Greg's rookie year was right up there with Rodman and Moses Malone, and above Buck Williams and Barkley.  These are considered the 4 greatest offensive rebounders of the last 35 years.

As a defensive rebounder, Greg was up there with Robinson, Duncan, and Moses Malone, and below only Shaq and Buck Williams.  (Data from www.Basketball-Reference.com)

4.    Greg Oden was a top five big man – or better – when he was on the court last year.

Last year, among players 6'9" and above playing more than 20 minutes per game and more than 20 games, Oden ranked quite high.  He led the league in three center-critical advanced stat categories (offensive rebounding %, shot blocking%, and total shot %).  He was top five in three more categories, including PER.

•    Offensive Rebound %:    #1 (30% more ORB/minute than Howard)
•    Block %:                             #1 (28% more blocks/minute than Howard)
•    Total Shot %:                     #1
•    Effective FG%:                   #3
•    Total Rebound %:            #3 (behind Camby and Howard)
•    Defensive Rating:            #4, tied with Rasheed, ahead of Camby, Duncan, Noah
•    PER                                    #5, behind Bosh, Duncan, Howard, ahead of Dirk, Pau, and Amare
•    Defensive Rebound %:  #9
•    Offensive Rating:           #11, ahead of Amare, Dirk, Duncan, and Howard

(Documentation at: www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=umczv)

5.    Greg Oden’s 2009-2010 advanced statistics compare well with those of three-time NBA all-star, two-time NBA defensive player of the year, three-time all-NBA team member Dwight Howard.

The following tables show that Oden and Howard are quite close in on-court performance.  If the numbers were reversed for the two players, it wouldn't be screamingly evident.

Player       PER     TS%   eFG%  ORB%  DRB%   TRB%  BLK%    Ortg  DRtg   WS/48
Howard    24.0    .630   .612    12.0     31.3      22.0    6.0          113      95     0.223
Oden        23.1    .647   .605    15.6     28.3      21.9    7.7          118    100     0.214

RANK IN NBA (AMONG PLAYERS WITH > 20 MINUTES/GAME)

Player       PER     TS%   eFG%  ORB%  DRB%   TRB%  BLK%    Ortg  DRtg   WS/48
Howard       6          5         2           11         2          2          4           49       1          4
Oden           8          1         3             1         7          3          1           17       4          8

(Documentation at: www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=9GiMl)

6.    Greg Oden was ranked higher in more advanced statistical categories last year than NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant, the 1st team all-NBA team player the Trail Blazers could have taken instead.

Last season, Greg Oden was 1st in the league in three "advanced" statistical categories, 3rd in the league in two more, 4th in another, in the top 10 in three others, and 15th in yet one more.
•    ORB%    #1
•    TS%        #1
•    BLK%    #1
•    TRB%    #3
•    EFG%    #3
•    DRTG    #4
•    DRB%    #7
•    PER        #8
•    WS/48    #8
•    ORTG    #15

Kevin Durant was 1st in the league in one category, 2nd in one, 3rd in one, 5th in one, and top 20 in two more.
•    PTS/GM  #1
•    WS/48    #2
•    PER        #3
•    FT%        #5
•    TS%       #12
•    ORTG    #16

(Documentation at: www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=Id5hc)

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