Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 at 9:30 am  |  35 responses

Blazers GM: No Regrets Drafting Greg Oden Over Kevin Durant

When news broke that Greg Oden wouldn’t be playing basketball this season last night, the Blazers’ front-office faced the inevitable question regarding their infamous decision to draft Oden over Kevin Durant, and they once again stuck to their guns (God bless ‘em .) From CBS Sports: “For the first time since the Blazers selected him in 2007, Oden even faces the prospect of being released outright by a team that has remained endlessly loyal as he’s missed the equivalent of four of his first five seasons in the league. With three microfracture surgeries, a fractured left patella and a February arthroscopic procedure on his right knee now in his past, the chances that he is ever able to step foot on an NBA court have never been smaller. Despite the five knee surgeries, Oden has banked more than $23 million despite playing just 82 total regular season games and he has outlasted the GM who drafted him, Kevin Pritchard, and the GM who followed Pritchard, Rich Cho. The Blazers have not appointed a full-time replacement for Cho, who was fired last May, but Chad Buchanan, the team’s Director of College Scouting, has been named Acting GM for this season. Buchanan, then in his mid-30s, was present in the 2007 war room, when the 7-foot center out of Ohio State had just finished leading the Buckeyes to the NCAA title game and promised to help a team that had fortuitously jumped up the lottery ladder to earn the right to choose between him and Durant. [...] ‘I was very excited,’ he said. ‘A chance to draft a player who could potentially get your franchise to your ultimate goal. Looking back on it, we were all excited. We had visions of Greg being a great player for us for years to come.’ As Oden has been sidelined, Durant’s star has soared faster and higher than even his biggest pre-draft proponents expected. Rookie of the Year, 3-time All-Star, 2-time scoring champion, MVP candidate, plus a trip to the 2011 Western Conference Finals and the promise of future postseason success. But just like his predecessors and Blazers president Larry Miller before him, Buchanan said that he still stands by the team’s selection of Oden over Durant. ‘Looking back on it, I would still draft Greg,’ he said. ‘Hindsight, it’s easy to make an assumption [now]… You can’t predict the injuries that would come. Going back on it, I wouldn’t have changed anything in drafting Greg.’ Asked if the decision was unanimous among those in the room, Buchanan politely declined to reply.”

  • Add a Comment
  • Share
  • RSS

Tags: , , , ,

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/farmer-jones/ Ryan Jones

    I think it’s valid to say that, knowing what they knew then, they’d still draft Oden. But the implication that they don’t “regret” it now is insane.

  • Blake O

    He’s being nice…but there is no way in a million years that if the blazers organization had the chance to draft again in 2007, they would chose Oden over Durant.

    With that said, I really hope he can somehow pull out of this and start playing again. Saw Oden when he made the trip to The Barn and played the gophers that season at Ohio State, he was unstoppable. Really is a tragic story.

  • D

    I like how the stand behind there decision even if it is a lie , no one in there right mind would do that draft the same , he’s right it’s easy to look back and say what could have been , but to say he’d do it over again is ridiculous

  • Fresh Boirdee

    I watch a lot of college basketball and even then the talent level between Durant and Greg were not even comparable. Kevin looked like a man playing with children; sometimes Greg didn’t even look like the best player on his team. Oden was good, but it was in flashes, it never seemed like he could dominate a game, heck Noah looked better than Oden. I know quality big men are hard to come by, but in a situation like that I say draft the best player, and Durant was clearly the best player in that draft.

  • D

    I agree fresh he looked slow and sluggish and confused a lot of the time , Durant was a beast since day 1

  • Justin G.

    Why is it ridiculous? Obviously knowing what we know now Oden wouldn’t even get drafted. But go back and ask them to do it again without knowing the future? Of course you make the same pick. He was the consensus number 1.

  • T-Money

    I get what he is trying to say, that they made the most rational decision with the information available to them at the time… but I would not even agree with that. There WERE red flags with Oden already (injured in HS, injured in college, uneven legs). They also knew that Brandon Roy had no cartilage in his knees when they drafted him. That’s just bad risk management.

  • http://www.boogiewilliams.com Boing Dynasty

    Easy case of “you cant teach size” syndrome, theres alot of things you cant teach tho, you cant teach a guy to play like Kobe in Kevin Garnett’s body, you cant teach a guy to hit 3′s anywhere inside half court with ease, and you cant teach a guy to have heathly knees, plus KD was comming off one of the all time great freshman season in history, even at the time it seemed like Kevin Pritchard sh;t the bed.

  • http://www.slamonline.com spit hot fiyah

    doing it again without knowing the outcome is a pretty pointless question. it would basically be the same decision again since all variables were the same

  • bull22

    @D correct, no one would draft the same again with exception of the sonics.
    marc gasol for one would be one of top 5 players taken in draft if done again. the portland gm is just trying to hangon to his job.

  • T-Money

    justin: oden wasn’t the consensus #1 pick, that’s revisionist history. there was a healthy debate between him and kd.

  • AD

    why would he throw oden under the bus … he’s already facing enough problems…. of course he would pick durant if they can go back but it doesnt matter

  • tk

    I think they feel that way bcuz good centers r hard to come by vs finding a good guard or forward. Think about it, ohio was ranked #1 that yr(correct me if I’m wrong. I forget my own age smtmes), he was a slow but polished center and u had the chance to lock him up for a few yrs wit the draftees contract. At that time, it was a smart choice if u had hoped to find a good center to build ur team around. Nobody can predict injuries tho!

  • Kobester

    Sure why not, it’s not as bad as drafting Sam Bowie before some guy named Michael Jordan.

  • Chuck

    “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.” “I still made the correct decision even though Oden had one leg shorter than the next, and he was a walking hospital ward.” That’s why the Trailblazers are such a great franchise, and going nowhere quivkly.

  • ptrain

    chuck wanna go for a rip

  • Rainman

    I wouldnt say i wud not regret it, its impossible not to look bak and be like “…fk” BUT if they was in the same position, completely oblivious to what was about to happen in the future, im sure they’d still make the same decision, they REALLY needed a big man out there over a perimiter player

  • RunNGun

    Sam Bowie 17 years later. The Blazers never learned.

  • http://www.gil1906.com Pve84

    Why are we still talking about this? This conversation got stale after the second time Oden’s Knees disappeared. It’s classy of Portland to stand by their guy. I hope Oden saved that money.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    idk why anyone commented after the Farmer. Sh*t is exactly right, there is really nothing else to this.

  • McWill

    Greg Oden is done yal….I seen this fool walking around the facility with shape-ups on….if that’s not the biggest indication of a player being done I don’t know what is lmaooo

  • Keith

    Fresh – I watch very little basketball. But by the time of the draft I had seen about 10 minutes of each player, and that was more than enough to know how ridiculous selecting Oden over Durant was. In fact he should have been very low on people’s list, unless they value height and size over motivation and potential impact.

  • LP

    Oden WAS the consensus #1 PICK IN 2007….KD was barely benching 185, meanwhile ODEN just took the Buckeyes to the FInal 4…dominating, dunking from the free throw line, blocking shots, scoring in the paint, all with 1 HAND! Durant was good, but everyone was looking for a legit big man to counter Shaq, Duncan…etc etc…The “find a big man” thing was the deal back then…

  • Chuck

    Good posts. The tragedy is Oden seems like a great kid, and doesn’t deserve this but then again, he isn’t on assistance. But NB fans get ready for the whole package, Anthony Davis. He WILL transform a franchise. I would love to see him with Biyumbo. By mid-season next year, there wille be no lay ups in Charlotte.

  • Startown

    No both were strongly considered, Durant was incredible in college!

  • TSmoove

    Blazers GM looks at Oden then looks at KD…”ehhh…let’s go with Oden.” Everyone else “but why?” Pritchard’s response…”YOLO!”

  • http://theurbangriot.com Then NUPE

    Both Oden and Durant were highly praised in college. But there wasn’t a single draft board that didn’t have Oden going #1. Oden was the ‘best big since Duncan’ coming into the draft and there was no way any team, scout, GM etc. would have picked Durant over Oden. Oden’s size and ability were considered such a rare find and as good as KD was, Oden was the clear choice. It’s easy to say now what the better choice was, and not saying there were no doubters in 2007, but to suggest that Oden was not the clear concensus #1 pick, just not true.

  • http://nyill.wordpress.com/ O

    I’m glad they ain’t draft Durant. Love in him OKC with Westbrook. Ibaka, Harden, etc.

  • LP

    Anthony Davis? not yet sold….Marcus Camby 2.0 imo…

  • bike

    Every nba player is one blown-out knee away from having a career ended. That’s why the average shelf life of an nba player is about 5 years. The Blazer’s medical staff looked over Oden with a fine tooth comb prior to drafting him. There was nothing that showed up that indicated he would have this level of knee problems.

  • westeves25

    Is he smoking the pipe!!!???!!?!?!

  • Chukaz

    Everybody was in the Oden bandwagon back then. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY would’ve passed on Greg Oden back then. Durant wasn’t extremely athletic, was weak, and he had a reputation as a gunner (also, he was a bit of a tweener and not in a good way, played like a 2, had the height and length of a 4, and couldn’t guard 3s). Oden on the other hand was 7’1, strong, hand just taken his team to the national championship game playing with only his left hand (as a right-handed player no less), rebounded, blocked shots, scored around the basket, athletic for his size. People were talking about him having a Bill Russell-like impact on the franchise that drafted him. The only noteworthy 5 was 6’11 Dwight Howard before he was a complete beast on both ends. Everybody would’ve drafted Oden.

  • Pais

    23mil for 82 games. That’s over 280k per game, not to shabby.

  • Justin G.

    T-Money, it’s not revisionist history at all. Yes they were both thought of highly but as others have pointed out, nobody would have taken Durant over Oden. Nobody. And can we please stop with the Sam Bowie thing too? How many times does it have to be pointed out that the Blazers had already taken Clyde Drexler the year before? There were questions about Jordan’s jump shot as well but since Drexler was already there, why would they draft another SG when they needed a big man?

  • Hornfan

    Anyone (like me) who watched Durant play 20+ games in college and win the player of the year award as a true freshman would have taken him over ANY other player. On top of that skill, he is 6’9″ and has a 7’4″ wingspan. Who cares what his bench press is? A basketball isn’t that heavy. He was and is simply that good — and now a top 3 talent (Lebron, Kobe, Kevin…). Oden was an average or below average scorer in college. Portland blew it, and if it makes you feel better to tell yourself that NOONE would have taken Durant, then keep saying it. I’m here to tell you, I’d have taken Durant…and anyone who bleed burnt orange would have as well.