Tag Archives: Greg Oden

Eastern Conference Southeast Division Preview

By: Evan

The Miami Heat clearly rank supreme in the Southeast division as well as in the Eastern conference.  Having won back-to-back titles, they  show no signs of slowing down. LeBron James is dazzling basketball fans around the world, making them wonder if he really is the best to ever play the game.  The Heat will win this division, but there is hope for some other teams  in the Southeast, like the Wizards, who have a chance to make the playoffs.  Let’s look at how the division will play out (*denotes playoff team).

1.) *Miami Heat

LeBron James is on top of the basketball world, but will he stay there?                                         Courtesy of ESPN

If I were a betting man, my money would be on the Miami Heat to pull a three-peat and win the NBA championship. They have all of the pieces and even found a way to improve their team from a year ago. They signed Greg Oden, an injury plagued center who has not lived up to his #1 overall pick six years ago, and Michael Beasley, a talented but immature small forward who was once considered the best player coming out of college. These are two low-risk, potentially high reward picks could significantly help Miami’s bench.  Of course, distractions are part of the game, and there will be a huge focus on LeBron’s  impending free agency and whether he will return to South Beach next year. The X-factor for the Heat is Dwyane Wade’s health.   Although Dwyane is working with Tim Grover, the legendary trainer who has worked miracles with athletes and their injuries, he still has a lot of miles on his knees and has clearly shown deterioration in his explosiveness.  Chris Bosh is another important player for the Heat as he stretches out opposing defenses with his mid-range game, opening up the hole for LeBron and D-Wade to attack. If Bosh improves on the defensive side of the ball, the Heat will be tough to beat.  The Miami Heat has great talent off the floor as Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra have brought in viable role players who have meshed with the big three quite well.   Riley and Spoelstra will be busy managing the media scrutiny about LeBron’s free agency while also formulating a plan for the future in case LeBron decides to leave.  Watch for the Heat in the headlines as they create a lot of excitement on and off the court.

2.) *Washington Wizards

The Wizards have one of the youngest and most talented backcourts in the NBA.                                                                                           Courtesy of Nike Talk

The Wizards take a big step and reach the playoffs this season with their young stars starting to pay dividends.  After  John Wall returned from a serious knee injury last year, the Wizards finished the season with a .500 record, which would have been good enough to make the playoffs considering the Bucks got in under .500.  John Wall received his much-desired max contract extension, they drafted Otto Porter, a versatile wing player who can defend and Bradley Beal showed significant improvement as the season wore on. The Wizards also have some expiring contracts in Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza that could be traded for some younger assets to help the Wizards in the long-run. But the Wizards lack post presence, as Nene has not been able to stay healthy, Emeka Okafor is not the player he once was, and the Wizards don’t have any reliable back-ups.  This put the onus on Wall, Beal and Porter to carry the offense and both Wall and Porter are inconsistent shooters, which is partially why the Wizards ranked 27th in field goal percentage last season. If the Wizards can attack more, and trade Okafor and/or Ariza for a viable big man, the Wizards could vault themselves from an 8th seed to a 6-7th seed.

3.) Atlanta Hawks

The Paul Milsap signing was a solid move for the Hawks.                                            Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

The Hawks are positioned for a rebuilding year as they let Josh Smith go to Detroit and they fired Larry Drew.  And while the Hawks  have a solid core of Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Lou Williams, they are still several significant upgrades from making the playoffs. In the NBA, there are teams who are consistently mediocre with little potential of advancing but are not the dregs of the league.  The  Atlanta Hawks are the quintessential example. They missed out on Chris Paul and Dwight Howard but signed a nice complimentary piece in Paul Milsap while also re-signing Kyle Korver. The Hawks also had a nice draft by selecting Dennis Schröeder, a talented point guard who could be a surprise ROY and might even take over the starting job from Jeff Teague. He still needs time to adjust to the NBA game but has the potential to be a cornerstone of this franchise. The Hawks are young and need more pieces to be contenders.

4.) Charlotte Bobcats

Will Al Jefferson help the Bobcats move in the right direction? Courtesy of Rotoinfo.com

The Charlotte Bobcats have been the laughing stock of the NBA for years now as they have consistently drafted players who have turned out to be busts including Adam Morrison, Brandan Wright and DJ Augustin.  Fan attendance is low and the Bobcats don’t have a player worth advertising.  Insert Al Jefferson.  Although Jefferson may not be a star, he has a consistent game of 18 points and 9 rebounds per game, solid numbers for a new NBA game that focuses on perimeter play. This signing is  important for the growth of the Bobcats and for showing the fan base that the team can attract free agents.  But even with the Jefferson signing, the Bobcats don’t have enough talent to get out of the lottery, which is a good thing for them as they traded a protected 1st round pick to the Bulls back in 2010 and that pick still has protection until 2016.  The Bobcats also have a Blazers protected top twelve pick and a Pistons protected top eight pick that the Bobcats may get this year as the Blazers and Pistons look to make the playoffs.  Given how stacked the draft is expected to be, a midrange pick could turn into a star, so the Bobcats have a great opportunity on the horizon.  Multiple picks can change the course of their franchise in just one night. This might be the last year for Bobcat nation to root for tanking and hopefully owner Michael Jordan and GM Rich Cho can turn this team around.  As for this season, the Bobcats need Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to find a jumpshot, Cody Zeller to play physical against bigger players and for Kemba Walker to become a more efficient shooter.  I don’t like this team now, but next year, it may be an entirely different story.

5.) Orlando Magic

Will Victor Oladipo play the point or shooting guard for the Magic?              Courtesy of USA Today

The Magic will be one of the worst teams in the NBA, no doubt about it, but they do have some exciting young players such as Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Mo Harkless and Nikola Vucevic. These players will become complimentary pieces to the high first round lottery pick they will draft this year. The question becomes what kind of player will they draft, as Victor Oladipo has played point guard throughout the summer league as well as in preseason.  If the Magic get the #1 overall pick, there is no question who they will take Andrew Wiggins; if they fall to a lower spot, and they think Oladipo will be more of a shooting guard, then the Magic may draft a point guard, potentially Marcus Smart, a player they wanted last year who didn’t declare for the draft.  Other possibilities are Dante Exum, an Australian player with good height and play making ability or Andrew Harrison, a physical guard who can play both guard positions and will know how to play under pressure because he will star for the University of Kentucky this season. The Magic will also get the lesser pick of the Nuggets-Knicks trade that involved Carmelo Anthony, which could turn into another valuable asset. This season will not produce many wins for the Magic but the future is looking brighter.

 

Stats from ESPN/

How Greg Oden can Impact the Heat

 By: Rahul

Courtesy of Bleacher Report
Courtesy of Bleacher Report

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:

1. Efficiency

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.

Courtesy of Top Buzz
Courtesy of Top Buzz

2. Rebounding

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.

Greg Oden Courtesy of NBC Sports
Courtesy of NBC Sports

3. Motivation

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