Last season, four rookies saw substantial playing time for the Blazers: Greg Oden, Jerryd Bayless, Rudy Fernandez and Nicolas Batum. With sophomore slumps being somewhat common occurrence in the NBA, one of them is bound to stumble out of the gates this season. In this post I attempt to discern just who that will be.
This section initially started with a with a rundown of Greg’s unfortunate NBA beginnings, it’s been covered ad nauseum and I scrapped it. If you need catching up, it’s out there somewhere.
Greg showed flashes of brilliance here and there, but mainly just looked nervous, flustered and lost. Most of his troubles can be traced back to getting injured right out of the blocks; which nullified all his preseason conditioning and axed what little confidence he had.
Offensively, Greg never looked comfortable. His jump hook was ghastly… Did he make more than 5 all season? He was at his best when he was cleaning up via offensive rebounds or when he got the ball with a running start and was able to attack the rim (who’s going to get in this way?). That said, offense has never been the priority with Greg. The Blazers drafted him for his defensive potential. His role is controlling the paint: rebounding, altering and blocking shots. He’s certainly big and strong enough to hang with anyone. Over short spurts, Greg held his own with the best the NBA has to offer in the middle.
Overall, he struggled with confidence and week side help timing. His sometimes meek body language and lack of commitment didn’t earn him any help from David Stern’s Yes-Men the NBA refs.
At the end of the day, it’s up to Greg. Will he put in the time and effort required? His problems are correctable and in his case, the tools inherent. An off season’s worth of hard work to bolster his game and confidence paired with a healthy start to the 09-10 season should be all Greg needs to dominate.
Jerryd, Rudy and Nicolas after the break… Read the rest of this entry »