What If Greg Oden Never Got Hurt?

August 20, 2012

By Jonathan Gordon

 

Greg Oden was the number one draft pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.  Dwight Howard was the number one pick in the 2004 Draft.  Both stand about 7 feet tall and weigh about 250 pounds.  Howard is the premier center of today’s game.  Oden was supposed to rival him for that distinction; however, Oden has had several injuries (knees, legs, and wrist) that have derailed that possibility.  While it’s impossible to never know for sure, it’s still fun to wonder what if.  What if Oden never got hurt?  How would Oden’s career have gone?  The following tables compare stats between the two big men from their first two years in the league.

 

*OFF RAT=estimate of number of points produced per 100 possessions
*DEF RAT=estimate of number of points allowed per 100 possessions
*WS/48 mins= Win Shares (number of wins contributed to) per 48 minutes

 

YEAR ONE

 

 

PTS/36 mins

REB/36 mins

BLK/36 mins

HOWARD

13.2

11.1

1.8

ODEN

14.8

11.6

1.9

 

 

 

 

 

FG%

FT %

TRB%

HOWARD

0.52

0.671

17.3

ODEN

0.564

0.637

20

 

 

 

 

 

OFF RAT

DEF RAT

WS/48 mins

HOWARD

111

104

0.131

ODEN

111

104

0.167

 

 

 

YEAR TWO

 

 

PTS/36 mins

REB/36 mins

BLK/36 mins

HOWARD

15.4

12.2

1.4

ODEN

16.7

12.8

3.4

 

 

 

 

 

FG%

FT %

TRB%

HOWARD

0.531

0.595

20.9

ODEN

0.605

0.766

21.9

 

 

 

 

 

OFF RAT

DEF RAT

WS/48 mins

HOWARD

108

103

0.137

ODEN

118

100

0.214

 

While Oden’s first two seasons were severely limited because of injuries, he still put up better rates and percentages than Howard.  Had he been healthy and played a whole season, his total numbers (not listed here) would have surpassed Howard.  The first season, Howard played just shy of 2700 minutes.  If Oden played the same number of minutes, he would have contributed about 9.3 wins (2 more than Howard).  In the second season, Howard played just over 3000 minutes.  If Oden played the same amount, he would have contributed 13.5 wins (roughly 5 whole more wins than Howard).  During that season, only LeBron James and Kevin Durant contributed more wins than Oden’s hypothetical projected total.

 

 

Oden has better shooting numbers, rebounding numbers, AND blocks numbers than Howard.  Howard is considered the top-defender in the league today; Oden would seemingly surpass Howard’s defensive standing, as supported by his better defensive rating.

 

Not only did Oden put up better numbers, he seemed to improve much faster.  This quick improvement, seen from year one to year two, begs the question of just how good could Oden have been? 

 

From a team standpoint, Oden would have vastly improved an already solid Portland team.  Teaming up with LaMarcus Alridge and Brandon Roy, Oden and the Trailblazers would, without a doubt, have been a top playoff contender.   From a league standpoint, Oden would have arguably been the best center in today’s game.