Saturday , Jul , 07 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Breaking Down Greg Oden & Kevin Durant’s Summer League Debuts

Oden and Durant have played their first NBA games-well, sort of … The two blue-chip prospects took part in the NBA’s summer league … Oden struggled, while Durant had a decent debut … Click here for news and analysis …

ESPN’s Chris Sheridan reports on Greg Oden and Kevin Durant’s play in summer league:

Oden received a rude welcome to the NBA in his professional debut Thursday night, committing 10 personal fouls and four turnovers while scoring just six points in Portland’s 74-66 loss to Boston on the opening day of the NBA’s Las Vegas summer league.

"I didn’t play too well. I didn’t play hard enough, and when you don’t play hard you don’t win," Oden said.

Durant missed his first five shots but began to find his touch in the second quarter and finished with a team-high 18 points in his first game for the Seattle SuperSonics, a 77-66 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

Durant finished 5-for-17 from the field, including 1-for-4 from 3-point range, and 7-for-9 at the line with just one rebound and no assists — the latter numbers illustrating how the No. 2 pick in last month’s draft did not have a particularly active performance.

Still, Durant looked very good in stretches, especially when posted up on the lower block against smaller defenders who weren’t able to deal with his height and quickness.

"It was good to get back out on the court and under the whistle," Durant said. "I had good shots [in the first quarter], but in this game you can’t make every shot.

Oden found himself on the bench with early foul trouble.

Oden said he, too, was nervous, and those nerves led to a horrific 3-minute first-quarter stint in which he committed three personal fouls and an egregious goaltending violation and was quickly sent to the bench. Oden had one nifty play in the first half, throwing down a vicious dunk off an offensive rebound and slapping both hands against the backboard after converting the bucket. He had a chance to convert a three-point play but missed the free throw.

Oden also had a brief stretch of effectiveness early in the fourth quarter before picking up his eighth, ninth and 10th fouls, joining Alexander Johnson of the Memphis Grizzlies as the only players to foul out of a game on the first day of summer league. Yi Jianlian of China looked like he might join them, too, but after picking up six first-quarter fouls and seven by halftime, he avoided any more during the second half of China’s loss to Memphis.

Oden finished 3-for-4 from the field and 0-for-3 from the line with just two rebounds and two blocks.

"He has a lot of adjustments he has to make, just like Kevin Durant and Jeff Green," Portland summer league coach Monty Williams said. "These guys have been playing AAU basketball, and now they’re playing against men. But this was good for him. This wasn’t Florida. He’s playing against young guys that are trying to eat, and it’s different."

Durant played almost the entire first half, then scaled back in the second half and logged only seven minutes.

My Quick Take: I wouldn’t put much into or summer league debuts. They’re both targets; less heralded summer league ballers are attempting to gain notoriety by stopping the first and second overall picks.

Monty Williams, Portland‘s summer league coach, is right when saying Oden and Durant are "playing against young guys that are trying to eat." The pro game, even in summer league, is different than the college ranks.

I think Oden may be a little out of shape. Leading up to the draft, the big center admitted to spending too much time on the banquet circuit. Poor conditioning usually results in foul trouble and Oden committed 10 infractions in a half of basketball.

Give credit. The Celtics encouraged Leon Powe and Glen Davis to challenge Oden down low. Their strategy worked and neutralized the big center for parts of the game.

Still, Oden had some nice flashes, especially on the defensive end. Look for him to bounce back in the Blazers’ next game.

Durant missed his first five shots before recovering nicely in the second quarter. He’s NBA ready-at least on offense. And his skill-set is absurd for a 19-year old. For example, Durant showed an impressive range of low post moves and attacked Dallas’ defense.

I can’t wait to see these two suit up again in summer league.

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