Thursday , Jun , 28 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Portland selects Oden with top pick

New York, NY (Sports Network) – The first two picks of the NBA Draft went
according to form, as Portland selected Ohio State’s Greg Oden at No. 1 and
Seattle took Texas forward Kevin Durant with the second selection.

The Trail Blazers, who finished 32-50 in 2006-07 and did not qualify for the
playoffs for the fourth straight year, made the No. 1 choice in the draft for
the first time since 1978. They selected Minnesota big man Mychal Thompson
with the top pick that year.

Oden played just one season for the Buckeyes, who were defeated by the
Florida Gators in the championship game of the NCAA Tournament. The seven-foot
Oden averaged 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in 32 games.

Durant was the consensus National Player of the Year in 2006-07, the first
freshman in NCAA history to claim the award. He led the Big 12 Conference in
scoring with 25.8 ppg and in rebounding with 11.1 rpg, while topping the
league in blocked shots.

Atlanta chose forward Al Horford with the third pick. The 6-foot-10 Horford
was an important part of Florida’s two-year run as national champions. Memphis
took Ohio State guard Mike Conley Jr. with the fourth selection.

The 19-year-old Oden is very athletic, plays strong on the defensive end
around the basket and runs the floor effectively. He is still developing his
low-post game offensively, but with more experience he will polish his moves
and could become a dominant force in the paint as a pro.

Fans in Portland are hoping picking Oden won’t be a case of deja vu. In the
1984 draft, the Trail Blazers selected Kentucky center Sam Bowie at No. 2
instead of North Carolina’s Michael Jordan, who was grabbed by Chicago with
the next pick. Jordan, who is arguably the greatest player to ever play the
game, won six titles and five MVP’s with the Bulls, while Bowie averaged 10.9
points in 511 games during an average 10-year career. The Kentucky product
played for Portland, New Jersey and the Lakers, and was hampered with injuries
throughout his career,

Instead of choosing Durant, the Trail Blazers weren’t going to pass up the
chance to add a dominant center. Oden joins a nucleus that already includes
Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy, point guard Jarrett Jack and forwards LaMarcus
Aldridge, Zach Randolph and Travis Outlaw.

The Sonics need a boost to their frontcourt, especially since Rashard Lewis is
expected to leave the club via free agency. Seattle is coming off a
disappointing 31-51 season in which it missed the playoffs for the second
straight year.

The Hawks, who haven’t been to the playoffs eight straight years, ranked worst
in the league, just behind Portland, in offense last season averaging under 94
points a game. Horford though could help Atlanta’s cause, as he averaged 13.2
points and 9.5 rebounds a game.