Miami Heat: Greg Oden Signing Grade
Josh Morgan: Hoopstuff Writer…
Contract: 2 years for 2.5 million, with the second year a player option
This signing is a speculative, albeit good one by the Heat. The speculation comes in terms of Oden’s health. Coming off of his third micro-fracture knee surgery, Oden is fragile at best. However, he is only 25 and could still have good years left in his body to turn his career around after 5 extremely disappointing and injury filled years after being the first overall pick by Portland in 2007. From the Heat’s perspective, Oden is a big body that could be able to defend and bump against players such as Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez and the other bigs in the Eastern Conference. Hibbert really hurt them in the Eastern Conference finals, helping the Pacers push the series to seven games. A player like Oden, when healthy, is a much better defensive option in the post than Udonis Haslem and even Chris Andersen, who does not have the bulk to keep bigger players off the block. The Heat’s team defense is among the best in the league and Oden’s ability to block shots will only be an improvement and will make a great combination along with Andersen, one of the most athletic defenders in the league. His offensive input will most likely be limited to put-backs off offensive rebounds and a few post-up opportunities. With the driving ability of the Heat, dump off passes for dunks will also be a major portion of the scoring from him. Oden is also a good to great rebounder and outlet passer, a skill that will help get the Heat’s fast break out and running where they are at their best. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade are two of the best fast break players in the league, with their incredible ability to finish at the rim. Some of the questions surrounding this signing, outside of the fragility of Oden’s knee, include his conditioning and NBA readiness after not playing since the 2009-2010 season. Not playing in an NBA game in over three years by the time the regular season starts, it would be naïve to expect Oden to be able to get up and down the court against some of the best athletes in the world. No matter how much he does in practice and workouts, an NBA game is totally different. The game has moved toward a much faster, up and down style, which is not something that can be simulated. If he puts in the work to get his body into the best shape possible this signing could help fill a role the Heat did not have an answer for within their organization. At the league minimum contract, it was almost a no-brainer to bring a former number one overall pick in and give him a chance to answer his critics and make the two time defending champions even better.