Let’s check the numbers from a list of men who I consider
to be the best post players to enter the NBA draft over the last 50 years.
First, let’s look at all of them in their first seasons in NCAA
NCAA All-Time Great Collegiate Big Man Stats
(Note: Chamberlain, Alcindor, Russell, Walton all were
Sophs in 1st season of Eligibility)
Chamberlain as a Soph. @ Kansas: 29.6PPG, 46.7%FG,
Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor
at that time) as a Soph. @ UCLA:
15.5RPG. He earned the first of
three consecutive Player of the Year awards.
as a Soph. @ USF: 19.9PPG, 48.5%, 19.9RPG
Soph. @UCLA: 21.1PPG, 63.9%FG, 15.5RPG
David Robinson as Frosh @ Navy: 7.6PPG,
a Frosh @ LSU: 13.9PPG, 57.3%FG, 12RPG
Patrick Ewing as
a Frosh @ Georgetown: 12.7PPG, 63%FG,
as a Frosh @ U. of
Houston: 8.2PPG, 60.6%FG, ,
Frosh @ Ohio
State: 15.7PPG, 61.6%FG,
Greg Oden passes this statistical test and is arguably
the most productive NCAA freshman big man both offensively and defensively since
Bill Walton’s days at UCLA in the early 1970’s. He also averaged 3.28 Blocks/gm
which compares favorably with every modern player. (Note: Blocks/gm were not
tracked as an NCAA stat until after Walton’s era.) Ewing and Robinson averaged
3.2BPG and 1.32BPG at Georgetown and Navy as freshman respectively.
After watching Oden in person on several occasions I can also attest to the fact
that he changed far more shots than he blocked.
But how good will Greg Oden become as a
Let’s look at the rookie NBA seasons of the players listed above.
As rookies in the NBA
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (28.8PPG, 51.5%FG, 14.5RPG)
Wilt Chamberlain (37.6PPG, 46.1%FG, 27RPG)
Bill Russell (14.7PPG, 42.9%FG, 19.6RPG)
Bill Walton (12.8PPG, 51.5%, 12.6RPG)
David Robinson (24.3PPG, 52.8%FG, 12.0RPG)
Shaquille O’Neal (23.4PPG, 55.9%FG, 13.9RPG)
Patrick Ewing (20.0PPG, 47.2%FG, 9.0RPG)
Hakeem Olajuwan (20.6PPG, 54.2%FG, 11.9RPG)
All contributed mightily to their new NBA teams. In fact, they all became
forces inside and eventually all but Ewing led
their teams to multiple NBA titles.
If you are the Portland Trailblazers and you are even thinking of
drafting Kevin Durant ahead of Greg Oden, I would have just one piece of
advice…THINK BILL WALTON! Remember the big red-head as he splashed onto the
Willamette River Valley
scene in the Pacific Northwest and delivered an
NBA title three seasons later in 1977! Or let’s talk Milwaukee Bucks and how
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Oscar Robertson and how they won the big one for the
beer capital of the world in 1971! Or, possibly we should consider Bill Russell
and the Celtics and their 1957 NBA title, the first of a dynasty led by Russell
over the next two decades. Chamberlain, Olajuwan, O’Neal and Robinson all have
multiple NBA titles as well.
Kevin Durant is a great collegiate player who will certainly have a fine
professional career but I view him in the Garnett/McGrady mold. Both are great
to good players in the NBA respectively but can they deliver titles without an
Oden-like teammate? Oscar Robertson needed Kareem to finally win his title in
West needed Wilt to finally break the Lakers jinx. Bird had McHale and Parrish
to score down low. Yes, I know that Michael Jordan was also in that same mold of
an athletic perimeter player coming out of North Carolina. Jordan
became a freak of nature because of his will to win combined with toughness,
tenacity and talent like no other player before or since.
I just do not view Durant in that same light; Talent…maybe, toughness…not
sure, tenacity…my gut says, ‘no way’. Possibly, we will look back on this draft
and view Greg Oden much like we think of Sam Bowie out of the University of Kentucky who was drafted ahead of Michael
Jordan back in 1984. I just don’t think so.
If it was my money being thrown around in Portland, Oregon I would take Oden-PERIOD! My old
history professor insisted that history does indeed repeat itself and I believe
that we will be welcoming back to the future the 1977 NBA title ride for the
Portland Trailblazer fans in the near future. Greg Oden will be the reason!
Mark Adams is a college basketball analyst
on the ESPN family of