Aside from the headline-worthy huge crowd of 11,000+ (congrats to you if you were there! It's amazing what a difference there is in excitement when the lower bowl is 11,000 real fans rather than, say, 5,000 real fans and 6,000 people with too much money and too little excitement), the major story last night was the unveiling of Greg Oden.
And let's just say it wasn't a smashing success.
Greg looked not good.
Oden was underwhelming. He finished with 5 points, 2 rebounds and one impressive block: a rejection of an Ike Diogu dunk attempt early in the game. The first offensive series of the game, Oden attempt a lean-in jump hook in the lane. It missed and he wildly went for the rebound, bobbling it out of bounds. It was evident the kid was nervous and eager to please. But God, he's huge. In a good way. Several times, Joel Przybilla got backed down so easily that he had to just wrap his arms around Oden to prevent a dunk.
Here's Dwight Jaynes.
Greg Oden: On this night, honestly — he looked a lot like Clifford Ray. He’s just not ready yet. He’s walking on eggshells — tentative in just about everything he does. Not explosive, either. It’s going to take time for him to find himself and to get comfortable with everything. It’s going to happen for him, but everyone is going to have to be patient. He’s not in top shape yet and needs to play enough to forget his injury and just let it all hang out.
Here's some more Quick with quotes from GO and Nate.
I'm already seeing you guys weigh in on a number of different fanposts, so let's consolidate thoughts about Greg here.
What did you like? What didn't you like?
My take: Greg looks very mechanical on offense. It's like he's the turtle from that early 1990s LOGO computer program, where you can only make 90 degree turns and each action is scripted. Greg turns left, Greg turns right, Greg pushes jump and dunks it on your face. His shots from short-range were not pretty, flat line-drives that were flung at the rim. High-percentage looks, low-percentage execution. His passing was the best part of his offensive game-- but in the context of a scrimmage against a "second unit" I don't think we can read too much into that.
Defensively: After the block on Diogu that Quick mentions above, it's funny how almost immediately no one wanted to take it at him and challenge him. Even Young Bayless, always fearless, would find himself scorching to the hoop, sensing Greg's presence, and then looking for an alternate route out of there. Detour! Greg's positioning on defense wasn't always great, but it was almost always meaningful.
Greg's body language was better than I've seen it so far this year: more expressive than media day, definitely more upbeat than at practice last week. The only knock on him mentally right now seems to be nerves- which he is very quick to acknowledge and which should fade in a month or two.
Many within the organization have urged cautious expectations for Greg: now we can see why. He looked like a man that has hardly played basketball in a few years, which he is. It might be November or December until he looks like a basketball player again. But, when he does, watch out.
-- Ben (email@example.com)