Thursday, February 01, 2007

Durant vs Oden: Who Goes #1?

With the NBA and NCAA seasons chugging along just past their midpoints - too far from the Playoffs or Tourney and too removed from the start of the season – many are focusing on the thrilling race for the #1 pick in the NBA Draft, which is becoming clearer by the day that it’ll be one of two players; Kevin Durant or Greg Oden.

Both look like superstars-in-waiting; but whom will be selected first? The dominant center that immediately gives any team a huge step towards contention, or the do-it-all wing player with a seemingly unending list of skills?

It probably comes down to personnel; what does the team in question need more? As I see it now, there are roughly eight teams who have a realistic chance of snagging the #1 pick. They are as follows:

1. Memphis

The Grizz. An awful team built around a star power forward who may or may not get dealt this season. The Grizz could really go in either direction; they don’t currently have a center or a small forward of the future on their roster. They’d probably go for Oden, simply under the guise of “dominant centers are harder to find than dominant wings”.
The call: Oden

2. Boston

Bizarre team. Built around Paul Pierce and have Gerald Green waiting in the wings, but seem to think very highly of Kendrick Perkins, their young center, and Al Jefferson, their young PF. This is just a guess, but I think they’d go Durant if given the choice. Jefferson is looking like a better bet than Green at this point.
The call: Durant

3. Philly

Easy call. Between the existence of Andre Igoudala and Rodney Carney at SF, and their apparent desire to get out of Samuel Dalembert’s contract in the middle, they’d go for the big man.
The call: Oden

4. Seattle

Weird situation. They have their apparent center of the future in Robert Smith; plus their underrated SF Rashard Lewis has an opt-out in his deal. If they re-sign him long term, they probably go Oden. But that’s a big “if”.
The call: Durant

5. Charlotte

This is an abominable team, and I think they’ve taken a step backwards in the last 12 months. With Adam Morrison around and no clear center-of-the-future, they probably need Oden more than any team on this list.
The call: Oden


6. Sacramento

It’s only a matter of time until Artest and Bibby are both dealt, and they’re starting all over in “the city that’s on the way from San Francisco to Tahoe”, as best known in the Bay Area. Between Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia, they appear to have a few good wing prospects, so the thinking here is that they’d go big.
The call: Oden

7. Atlanta

Another team with a glut of wing players (Johnson, Smith, Childress, Marv Williams) and no real center to speak of. Their current depth chart at the 5 reads: Zaza Pachulia, Lorenzen Wright, Solomen Jones. Another easy one.
The call: Oden

8. Milwaukee

Milwaukee’s starting front court for the next five years: Andrew Bogut, and Charlie Villanueva. Another clear answer.
The call: Durant

The final tally? 5-3, Oden. And that’s probably about right. Big men are generally a more coveted asset. I’ve got pretty high hopes for both these players and whichever teams end up with them will be happy in the end.

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