Player Profile: Greg Oden, Free Agent
With several teams in hot pursuit of free agent Greg Oden and it looking likely he will find a suitor for the 2013-14 NBA season, let’s look back to a time when he was able to play in the NBA and review what his strengths and weaknesses were at the time. To do this, we need to go back to 2009-10, the last season he was able to play any games, although he played only 21 games before being injured.
The 25 year old should be entering the prime of his career but three season have passed since Oden last played in the NBA, due to his well documented injury history. This profile comes with a hard qualifier that, at this point in time, we do not know how healthy he will be, so these strengths and improvement areas are features of Oden when healthy. Also, three years is a long time to be out of the game and it’s possible Oden could have changed several of these aspects. However, this should be a good reminder of what he was like in his short stint in the 09-10 season.
The clear strength of Oden on the offensive end is his offensive rebounding prowess. His 15.6 Offensive Rebounding Percentage in 09-10 put him 5th in the NBA for players who played at least 20 games. The Blazers did not call his number on offense very often, so Oden’s role was to crash the offensive glass, which he did quite well.
Oden roams the baseline until the shot goes up, then he slides in front of his defender and boxes out his defender to get position for the offensive rebound. He knows how to get great position on the offensive glass to grab any missed shot, as we see from the below frame.
Once Oden corrals the offensive rebound, he is a premier finisher around the rim, as we see from the below 2009-10 shot chart. He is nearly impossible to stop once he gets the rebound, finishing layups, dunks and tip-ins, which makes up a large portion of his point total. This is in large part due to the area in which he gets the offensive rebounding. Most times, he does not go over the defender to get the rebounder, but gets in between the defender and the basket, so once he secures the rebound, there is nobody between him the basket. This makes the finish as easy as possible, thanks to the work he put in while the shot is in the air.
Oden can provide a valuable skill in offensive rebounding to a team that takes a chance on his health this season. He will not be a top offensive option again this season, especially considering his lengthy absence from the league, so one of his main roles on offense will be to fight for rebounds. He knows where the ball is coming off the rim and uses his body to gain position against his defender. This allows him to easily grab the rebound and finish the follow up shot.
Traditional Post Defense
Oden is also a capable defender, allowing only 0.78 points per possessions on post up possessions in 2009-10. He uses his frame and his strength to stop offensive players from backing him down, forcing them into tough contested shots. When an offensive player attempts to take him one on one from the block position, he is difficult to score on thanks to his strength and size.
He didn’t have many possessions in 09-10 but he had success when defenders posted up against him with their back to the basket. It will be interesting to see how he performs in this scenario in the upcoming season (if healthy) but he was a reliable post defender the last time he was on the court.
Areas of Improvement
Face up Post Defense
While Oden has shown he can defend big men on the block, if they face up against him, he has trouble defending these plays. He is not the most agile player, even when he is healthy. Therefore, he gives the offensive player, Jermaine O’Neal in the case below, space so he does not get beat to the rim.
When offensive players get this much space in this area of the floor, they are more than capable of knocking down this mid-range jump shot. WIth Oden backing off so he does not get beat off the dribble, he is vulnerable to the jump shot.
Oden will likely struggle with this aspect of defense again this season, as his injury history will certainly not help his lateral movement. Teams will look to exploit this weakness, so Oden and the help defense around him will need to adjust to stop giving up these open jump shots.
With the caveat attached that Oden must be healthy for this analysis to have any benefit, Oden should be able to contribute to many teams as a bench player. At the time of this post, he has not signed with a team but there are many teams that he could provide valuable bench minutes for this season. Based on his past performance, he can provide offensive rebounding and strong defense, as long as a team manages him correctly.
His injury history and time away from the game may give us a different Greg Oden than what we saw in 2009-10 but more than likely, we will see many of the same strengths and weaknesses this year.