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
center 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.

Five players from this past season’s national championship game were chosen
among the top 10.

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. Georgetown
forward Jeff Green was taken fifth by Boston, but he may not remain with the
Celtics.

Reports indicated the Celtics were going to trade Green to the Seattle
SuperSonics, along with guard Delonte West and forward Wally Szczerbiak. In
exchange, the Celtics were going to get seven-time All-Star selection Ray
Allen for their backcourt.

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 have missed the playoffs in eight straight years, ranked worst
in the league, just behind Portland, in offense last season, averaging less
than 94 points a game. Horford, though, could help Atlanta’s cause, as he
averaged 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds a game.

Chinese forward Yi Jianlian was taken sixth by Milwaukee, while Minnesota
selected Florida forward Corey Brewer seventh. North Carolina forward Brandan
Wright was taken eighth by Charlotte, and Gators forward Joakim Noah was
chosen ninth by Chicago.

Horford, Brewer and Noah made history by becoming the first trio from the same
school to be taken in the top 10 of a draft.

The Sacramento Kings, coming off their first losing season since 1998,
selected Washington center Spencer Hawes at the 10th spot.