Thursday , Jun , 28 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Report: Portland Trail Blazers Will Take Greg Oden First Overall

The Oden or Durant debate has apparently been settled … Reports indicate that Portland will take Oden with the first overall pick in tomorrow’s draft … The Blazers are playing it safe, choosing size over skill … Click here for news and analysis …

ESPN reports that the Portland Trail Blazers will select Greg Oden first overall in tomorrow’s NBA draft. 

Oden or Durant. Durant or Oden. Looks like we have an answer.

ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher reported on Wednesday night that Greg Oden‘s camp has been notified by the Portland Trail Blazers that they will take him with the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.

It was not an easy choice. Oden tested better at predraft camp, Kevin Durant had the sharper workout in Portland.

Dominant big men are usually impossible to pass up, and Oden could be a great one. He has been compared to Bill Russell for his rebounding and shot blocking, and he led Ohio State to the national championship game even while never at full strength after surgery on his right wrist.

"You can see why he’d be a No. 1 pick," Durant told reporters. "I think he’s one of the best centers to come out of college. He’s quick and agile, he’s 7-feet, 250. I’ve never seen that in a center before."

Players like Durant don’t come around often, either. The swingman from Texas was the college player of the year after averaging 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds, ranking fourth nationally in both categories. And if he indeed falls to Seattle at No. 2, he’d make a terrific consolation prize.

"Without question, Kevin Durant’s the most talented player in this draft," Texas A&M point guard Acie Law said. "But if I’m building a franchise, as most teams at the top of the draft are, you can’t pass up a guy you can just build your team around. Because there’s guys in the league that can score 20, 25 a game, like Kevin Durant can, but you’re not going to find a 7-foot manchild that can just patrol your line for 10, 12 years."

My Quick Take: NBA GMs have a rule: go big. Not all GMs follow this rule, but most, when all the other factors are considered equal, prefer size. After all, legit centers are so rare Greenpeace considers them endangered, while talented wings are much more common in today’s NBA.

Portland would be following the rule by taking Greg Oden first overall. He’s the next great center and the smart, conservative pick.

The numbers don’t lie. Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan have won eight of the last nine NBA Titles. They’re both big men. Portland feels Oden, if he develops into the next great center, gives them the best shot at winning a championship.

There’s another side to this argument. Durant is considered the most talented player in this year’s draft. He’s a freak. His individual workout with the Blazers was off the chart.  And analysts feel he’ll re-invent the four-spot.

But he’s not a center. So the Blazers will follow the rule, play the odds and go big with Oden.

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