Former top overall pick Greg Oden will be joining the Miami Heat next season as he attempts to come back from his debilitating knee injuries that have forced him to the sideline for much of his career and have kept him out of the NBA since 2010.
In Oden, the Heat get a big center to fill a need in the post. Miami has survived on small ball, but were exposed some in the Playoffs for its lack of size against Indiana and against San Antonio in the final two rounds of the Playoffs. There was definitely a desire to find a more suitable replacement — someone who could provide both offense and defense — for short stretches.
Oden is still incredibly talented. He averaged 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in 21 games in 2010. He osted a near-star-level PER of 23.1 and had a 64.7 percent true shooting percentage. When Oden was able to play, he was very very good. Worthy of being the number one pick. It is easy to forget just how good Oden was at Ohio State and in his two shortened seasons in the NBA. It was just all a matter of keeping him on the floor healthy.
So why Miami? Oden had plenty of suitors and plenty of teams who still wanted to take a chance on this 25-year-old 7-footer who at one point was selected ahead of Kevin Durant. The Heat were one of the few contenders who expressed interest in Oden. Many believed he would elect to play for the Pelicans and the Kings so he could make his comeback in relative anonymity.
That is not what Oden wanted though, as he told former AAU and Ohio State teammate Mark Titus of Grantland. Oden wanted to play for a championship caliber team.
Obviously the chance to play with the best player in the world and compete for a championship was a big selling point. But more than that, what I really liked was how they thought I could really add something to their team. They’ve won back-to-back championships without me, so for them to pursue me as hard as they did meant a lot, especially given all that I’ve gone through.
Oden still wants to win at heart. it seems. And playing as a role player with the Heat and competing seems to be what Oden was after in making his comeback and return to the NBA.
Titus, someone who should know Oden very very well, believes the Heat are the right place for him. There will be little pressure on Oden except to defend and dunk. That should be relatively easy to do with all the talent on that Heat team. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will take most of the heat and Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem should have most of the minutes in the post too.
Now we will just wait and see whether Oden is ready to return.