Yesterday, the Miami Heat announced that they had signed Greg Oden, former Trail Blazer and overall #1 draft pick in 2007, to a two year contract to the league minimum, approximately worth 1 million the first year and 1.1 million with a player option for the second year. Some people consider this a bad move by the Heat because Oden has not played a game since the 2009-2010 season due to his knee injuries, causing him to have microfracture surgeries on both knees. However, here are three reasons how Oden is a great candidate to help the Heat:
Yes, we know that Greg Oden has serious knee problems that have limited him to playing 82 games since he got drafted back in 2007. But, let us discard that for a moment and look over his performance for the games that he did play. Oden maintained an 18.1 PER during the 2008-09 season and jumped to a 23.1 PER during the 2009-10 season. For those unfamiliar with PER (Player Efficiency Rating), it is a measurement of per minute production that is standardized in such a way that the league average is 15 (basketball-reference.com). Although Oden has missed many games, he has proven that he can be an above average, efficient basketball player. Even though the Heat will start out by giving him limited minutes during the next year, he will serve as a valuable addition to their bench.
This is the main worry of Heat fans. Although the Heat have arguably the best defense in the league and plenty of offensive support from the Big 3, nothing frustrates Heat fans more than when they give up second chance opportunities due to the lack of rebounds and then cannot give themselves any second chances when they are on offense. Oden averaged a 15.7% ORB (Offensive rebound rate) during the games he played from 2008-10. For those who are not familiar, the offensive rebound rate is an estimate of the percentage of available offensive rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor. If one was to compare Oden’s career rate to all centers during the 2012-2013 season, Oden would be the 2nd highest, above Roy Hibbert, Tyson Chandler, and Andre Drummond before falling to Anderson Varejao with a 16.9% ORB, the highest in the NBA this past year. However, one may say that players like Hibbert and Chandler played over 28 minutes a game this season, while Oden averaged only 22 minutes a game through his two seasons. While this is true, Oden still played more minutes and averaged a better ORB in both 2008-09 and 2009-10 then Andre Drummond, Enes Kanter, and Kosta Koufos during the 2012-13 season. If Oden manages to come back as strong as he played before, then he will become a key component to the Miami Heat.
A player’s mentality can define their performance throughout the whole season. According to Mark Stein of ESPN, the Heat had been trying to recruit Oden since before the end of the last season. Oden himself didn’t think a comeback was possible until October. Even after all the injuries and expectations Oden has blown, the fact that the Heat, a championship team, found him as a “useful piece to add to their mix,” really strengthened Oden’s desire to come back and play with the Heat. Stein also acknowledged that the Heat will work him back slowly into the game, loosening his expectations and allowing him to ease back into becoming a fairly dominant center. Oden will not be making a big impact right away, but he will be guided into becoming a more and more useful addition to the current NBA champions, the Miami Heat.
The fact that the Miami Heat are getting a newly motivated Greg Oden, who was 6th in field goal percentage, tied for 11th in blocks, 11th in rebounds, and 13th in PPG among centers during the 2008-09 season, as a key bench option strikes as a good solution to Miami’s rebounding worries, while providing an efficient offensive boost and a shot blocking presence. One can see that it was a pretty good offseason move, especially while only having to pay a minimum contract. This is key because the Heat don’t have to be concerned about making too big of an investment on an injury riddled former lottery pick. His yearly salary constitutes a very small fraction of the team’s payroll, which stands at $79,400,797 for next season.
Signing Grade: A-
Sources: ESPN and basketball-reference.com