Saturday, June 16, 2007

Oden vs. Durant and the left coast vs. the world

This morning while I was showering and shaving I was thinking again about the Oden/Durant debate. It came up in my mind because of this article I read this morning. The first part describes the ├╝ber-cool plan to send Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge to the airport to meet Greg Oden when he arrives in Portland on Tuesday, and then again to meet Kevin Durant when he shows up on Thursday. The only problem I have with this is the State of the Union corollary. The part that brought the debate back into my mind is included here in full because of how much is said in the post:
Even though many have conceded the Blazers drafting Oden with the No. 1 pick, Pritchard shot down the notion on Friday. He was adamant that anybody who feels Oden is the sure-fire pick should watch Durant's March 3 game during which he scored 25 first-half points against Kansas. One week later, in the Big 12 championship game, Durant had 37 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks against Kansas.

In the article, Pritchard labels himself as "a risk taker" who is "not afraid to go against the current."

My sense is that Pritchard is sending smoke screens. But I have always said this: during the winter, when Pritchard and I would talk in passing before Blazers games, he would always rave about Durant. And shortly after the Blazers won the draft lottery, Pritchard admitted that his scouting staff would probably concur that he was leaning toward Durant.

This much is known: McMillan likes both players, but is clearly leaning toward Oden.

Also, Pritchard loves Durant, but is also enamored with the potential of an Aldridge-Oden frontline that would evoke memories of the Spurs title tandem of David Robinson and Tim Duncan.

Another nugget: Pritchard says that Roy and Aldridge are leaning toward favoring different players. Which ones? Who knows.
I am still very much in the Oden camp, but reading all that made me start thinking about the possibility of swapping picks with Seattle and getting some more value out of it. That started me thinking about how good both teams could get with these picks this year, which pushed me into thinking about the impact it could have on the league.

The Sports Guy keeps insisting that the draft shouldn't reward teams who are always bad and who consistently make bad decisions in the front office. It's here in a question he asks David Stern, and I think he's mentioned it in other columns, though I can't find it. He thinks it's better for the league if teams who are doing things the right way end up with the best picks. You know what? I agree with him. And I think that's why the result of this year's lottery is so good. Of course I love the results because I'm a Blazer fan, and because I think the west coast--and pacific northwest in particular--gets crapped on by the media. But I also think these things need to be considered when measuring the value of the lottery:
The Blazers are clearly doing things the right way. Last year they drafted better than maybe any team has in a while, making all those draft day deals to bring in three players who are really great players and really great people. The team played well together this year, and they have a great coach and a great front office. The Sonics, despite all the turmoil with the ownership and the city, have done a good job with that too. Sure, they've been drafting centers every year. But they've also made good moves to bring in Ray Allen and Chris Wilcox, they just hired another Spurs alum in Sam Presti, and they should make a move to re-sign Rashard Lewis. These teams are both moving toward contention. They both have good basketball traditions that have recently been floundering. Even if the Sonics leave Seattle, they'll be moving to a place that will respond well to a great team. In addition to those things, the two teams have a decent rivalry that will only improve as they both get better. The last thing that is really good about the results of the lottery is that it will force people to care at least a little bit about what's happening in the pacific northwest. I don't care if people will have to stay up later to watch the games. ESPN will have more highlights from both teams, which will generate more interest in both teams, which will result in more people biting the bullet and staying up to see both teams play on TV. Oh yeah, it will also result in more of those games actually being on TV.

So there you go. A while ago my friend J-Lew asked me to write what I thought about all the claims being made that this lottery result was bad for the NBA. I've finally done it.

1 comment:

Lewis said...

Thanks for answering my question from a while back. I think I agree with your assessment, but I am a little disappointed still that I won't be able to watch as much Greg Oden and Kevin Durant games as I would if they were on the East Coast (and their games started at 8 pm). I would still take Oden first if I had the #1 pick, but I actually think Durant has become underrated (somehow) after having some bad measurements at the pre-draft camp in Orlando. People have already forgotten how good he was last year at Texas.