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Who Would You Take at No. 1?

Texas star Kevin Durant announced he’s entering the draft. No surprise there. It will be even less surprising when Greg Oden announces his entry pretty soon.
But the question is out there, looming for whoever is fortunate enough to land that top pick. Who do you take?
Oden has been the consensus prediction for the top pick. A 7-footer who is a force on defense, has potential on offense and all the tenacity and hunger you’d want in a big man.
Durant is the best basketball player in the country. He’s a walking mismatch that probably comes around less often than a legitimate center.
If it is me, I’m taking Durant. Yes. I’d pass up on a true center. But I’d prefer the most proven commodity. Durant is a baller. Oden can be. In a league that favors offensive stars, a defensive center’s impact is limited. So, one would be hoping that Oden comes around on offense. Otherwise, he’s Theo Ratliff.
But Durant is as close to a sure thing as you’re going to get. As tough as it would be to pass up on a talent like Oden. I think I’m taking Durant.
And you?

Marcus Thompson

  • PhillyJ

    Oden no question. A franchise center for 10+ years over an all-star PF. How many rings has Shaq won? How many has KG won?

  • Marcus Thompson

    How many has Tim Duncan won? If Phoenix or Dallas win the title this year, would they qualify as All-Star PFs with rings (Dirk, Amare)?

  • Alex

    Even tough i’m a fan of Andris and I don’t get to watch that much college games, i’d take Greg Oden. When you say ” in a league filled with offensive stars …” i believe a defensive center just can make a bigger impact.

    Btw, on the warriors pick, what to think of Darrel Arthur, if he comes out?

  • EJ

    I’m taking Durant. The league is getting smaller and the tempo is speeding up. Gone are the days getting a big man to combat against the Shaq-like monsters in the middle. Especially with zone defenses in place these days. A guy like Durant come around once in a lifetime. Kind of like a Reggie Bush. You can go for the sure thing in Greg Oden (or Mario Williams, in the Titans case), but ultimately who is going to have a bigger impact on the team, or even the entire league.

    Durant is a mismatch for every defender in the league and can also be a zone-buster with his range from the perimeter.

    The league is moving towards a era where positions aren’t defined by their height. Kobe plays 1, 2, 3. Wade plays 1, 2, 3. Lebron plays 1, 2, 3, 4. etc. Everyone is going to be defined plainly as a basketball player; a baller. That’s exactly what Durant is.

  • JB

    A better question would be: which teams in the NBA would actually consider Durant over Oden… Only Toronto and Orlando come to mind… Maybe New Orleans and the Knicks…. Teams with a young center already

  • gswbandwagon

    The Reggie Bush comparison is pretty bad. Mario Williams was not seen as a sure thing or safe pick, not even close to it. For evidence, see all the ridicule the pick received. Bush was the heavy favorite to be #1 for a year, sort of like Oden and not anything like Durant. I really don’t see the comparison.

    I’d take Oden. The zone defenses make Oden MORE valuable, not less. Now he can maximize his shot blocking presence. I’m not sure how the zones help an offensive guy like Durant?

    I’d especially take Oden if I’m trying to play a fast tempo like the Warriors are. It’s hard to run if you don’t rebound, and it’s easy to run off blocks. Earlier this year Don Nelson said that the Warriors were Bill Russell short of being a title contender. He didn’t mention anything about Dominique Wilkens.

    Besides, who has won a title with a team built around a tweener forward? The Bird Celtics were the only one built around a SF, but even they had a couple HOF bigs to help him out. Teams that win have HOF interior players (Duncan, Shaq, Hakeem, Walton, McHale, Kareem, Russell, Moses, etc etc etc).

  • jim

    Marcus,

    Blog question: Why do you think Pietrus has become such a non-factor in games? Or am I missing his contributions? Particularly over this final push, I don’t get the sense that he comes into games and makes a difference. With his athleticism and energy and years in the league, I’m disappointed. I’m wondering if the open game Nellie plays hurts him because of his limited decision-making skills.

  • EJ

    You have Mario Williams: a big, powerful, athletic DE with polished pass rushing skills and the ability to play the run. Similar to Oden in that what you see right now is what you get. Pretty solid, not exactly spectacular. Would fit in any system, 4-3 or 3-4.

    Then you have Bush. A bit undersized for a fulltime RB (Durant is a 7 ft. stick). But both are a freak of nature. Both only scratched the surface of their potential in the NCAA.

    You know what you’re getting in Oden. 20 and 10 and maybe 3 blocks per. In Mario Williams, you know you’re getting at least 12 sacks a season. Both of their games are ‘pro-ready’. Now, with Bush and Durant, you don’t quite know. They put up some amazing numbers and put together some impressive highlights, but how will that translate to the pro level?

    As for your zone defense point, can you imagine having Durant posting up a 1 or 2 at the elbow (a la Dirk)? I don’t know that zone defense benefits Oden in the pros. He can’t camp in the lane like he did at OSU. And how does he get his offense going from beyond 10 ft of the hoop against, let’s say, Dwight Howard or Amare? You’re looking at 2 athletic freaks in center-type bodies. I wouldn’t classify Oden in their class just yet. Durant won’t be limited to working inside on the zone, as he’s able to blow up from the perimeter (see game vs Texas Tech). Bobby Knight couldn’t hold him down.

    How can you pass up on Durant? Oden is too limited. If teams with the top picks are desperate for a center and want to play it safe, they’ll go with Oden.

    And Durant is not a tweener. When you can hoop like him, you’re a baller.

    Church!

  • Marcus Thompson

    I have to agree with EJ. It kind of goes against the tradition of the game to not take the true center. But the fact is, the game is different now. Athleticism and skill set reigns supreme, and not size.
    When you have a true center, you are locked into being a one dimensional team — a halfcourt, defensive-oriented style of play. One of the things that makes Houston so easy to beat — which the Warriors recently proved — is that all you have to do is get up and down. A true center can be negated, especially one that doesn’t dominate on offense. One of the things that makes teams such as Dallas, San Antonio and Detroit such formidable teams is that they can play both styles. They can run with teams that run, and slow it teams with teams that slow it down.
    Also, it’s much harder to build around a true center, in the mold of an Oden or a Shaq, than it is to build around a multi-talented versatile player such as Durant. Evaluate the teams that have won a championship with a true center, ever. From Russell to Wilt to Hakeem to Shaq. They were all playing alongside Hall of Fame-caliber players. When you have a true center, You have to have a darn good-to-great point guard to run things through, a great secondary scorer to keep teams honest, and a clutch player if the previous two doesn’t qualify.
    It will be harder to build around Oden than it will be to build around Durant. In Durant, you potentially have a scorer, a clutch player and someone you can run the offense through. In Oden, you need to have/get those pieces. You look at KG. Look how much better the T’Wolves got when they added Sprewell and Cassell — hardly Hall of Famers. That’s because KG doesn’t need too much. Tim Duncan doesn’t need too much. Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t need too much. Neither will Durant.

  • Tay

    I would pick Durant. He looks better than Garnett at that age. He wil be perenial all star. Big many like Oden are a bigger risk.