At long last, Greg Oden made his season debut on Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards. When the former number one overall pick took less money to sign with the Miami Heat this offseason, it was clear Oden wanted one thing, a ring. Since being drafted in 2007, the former Ohio State big man has been disappointing to say the least. Before Wednesday, Oden hadn’t played in an NBA game since December 5th 2009. He had suffered through a career of anguish and struggle both on and off the court. Between his best friends passing in 2006 and his embarrassing photo leak in 2010, it is impressive that Oden showed the will to return all together. Based off the small sample size, that determination seems to have paid dividends. In an impressive eight minutes, Oden scored six points (including two dunks) and grabbed two rebounds.
Physically, Oden looks better than ever. He seems to have lost weight, while putting on muscle in his upper body. That combination is always a step in the right direction for big men. Mentally, he looked even better. To score his first points since 2009, Oden grabbed an offensive rebound off a Dwayne Wade miss, and put back and emphatic two hand dunk. After seeing a play like that, fans and coaches alike have to be encouraged by his performance and attitude.
Looking on the larger scale, this is exactly what the Miami Heat need. While their current three game losing streak is bad, it could just be a January slump. However, looking at the big picture, the Miami Heat will not make the Finals with this current roster. They aren’t as big or deep as the Indiana Pacers. With his natural size, Roy Hibbert is going to easily beat Chris Bosh and Chris Anderson in the paint. This then creates matchup problems all over the floor and allows Indiana to stretch the floor for their surplus of shooters. What Oden could do, on a smaller scale, is be Miami’s Roy Hibbert. At 7’0 280 lbs, Oden has the potential to be able to play Hibbert perfectly on both sides of the ball.
Bigger then anything he could do in his minutes on the court, is what having Oden means the Heat will not do. That big discontinue would be Miami’s reported interest in free agent big man Andrew Bynum. Bynum is the NBA’s second biggest cancer, losing the honor to J.R. Smith. From his lack of effort on court to his erratic off the court behavior, Bynum needs to be avoided at all costs. The Heat don’t have enough player chemistry and Erik Spolestra is not respected enough to be able withstand the walking hurricane that is Andrew Bynum.
Now with all this being said, lets not go and put Greg Oden next to Wilt and Russel. In reality, he will only be a 10-15 minute player come April & May, but those 10-15 minutes can be the difference between a championship and not even making the finals. With his size and strength, Oden possess the ability to be that enforcer down low, who can also spread the floor for Lebron, Wade, Chalmers, and the rest of the Miami Heat.