Sunday, April 15, 2007
When I was nineteen years old, the biggest decision I was ever forced to make was whether or not I felt like making the five-minute walk to the HLC for my nine o’clock Health class. More often than not, the answer is no, but either way, “to class or not to class” was not a life-altering choice.
Greg Oden is a nineteen year old who will soon be making a much bigger decision: will he leave Ohio State after one season and move on to the fame and wealth dangled by the NBA, or will he state in college for another year or two and try to win a national championship for the Buckeyes?
If Oden’s father is to be believed, the choice has been made and Young Greg is on his way to Boston, Memphis, or whichever team is lucky enough to land the number one pick. According to his would-be agent, however, the best collegiate big man in a generation has yet to make the final decision.
What should Oden do? Got me. I thought it would be nice to help him sort everything out, though, so check out a few of the pros and cons of early NBA entry after the jump.
Mo’ Money: Under the Rookie Salary Scale detailed in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, Oden stands to make close to $4 million in the first two years of his initial contract. For a kid who is currently playing for nothing more than a free education (as valuable as that is), that’s a tremendous carrot to dangle. Result: Pro
It’s Getting Hot In Here: It can’t be easy being the big man on campus, especially when your mere presence on the basketball team helps bring about a trip to the national championship game. Depending on where Oden goes in the draft, however, the pressure could be even more intense. Result: Con.
The Shaun Livingston Factor: It’s becoming a common, but completely legitimate, concern: suppose a young, five-star freshman prospect suffers a serious injury that drops his draft status and negatively impacts his future earning potential? This has to be considered a very real possibility for Oden, especially on the heels of last year’s wrist surgery that sidelined him for several months and might have hampered his play when he returned. Strike while the iron is hot, young man. Result: Pro.
Chicks, Man: I’m sure the groupies at the NBA level are top-notch practitioners of their trade, but I tend to view them as more of a professional-style groupie. Jumping to the NBA makes it that much more difficult to return to the amateur ranks. But then, would you want to go back? Really, this one is too close to call. Result: Push.
The Best Years Of Your Life: Are they saying that about college these days or is it more of a high school thing? Regardless, Oden should take the advice of someone who completed his last two years of college as a commuter: you can go back to school after jumping to the NBA and finish your degree, but I don’t know if you can ever regain the feeling of what it’s like to actually be a college student. The window of opportunity for unlimited partying and wanton debauchery won’t stay open forever – enjoy it while you can. Result: Con.
The Game: There’s gotta be at least one category that deals with on-court stuff, right? The bottom line is simple: Oden’s game isn’t NBA ready, and he knows it. He’s an intimidating defensive presence, and chances are that Bill Simmons is right and he hasn’t really cut loose for fear of re-injuring his wrist, and he might end up being the best NBA big man of his generation. But he’s not there yet. This isn’t the 1950s Celtics and Greg Oden is not Bill Russell; these days, even a great defensive player should have a good offensive game (yes, I know you got paid for your defensive talents, Mr. Wallace). Another year in school – his first truly healthy year – would help Oden work on that aspect of his game and provide a more complete player in the long run. Result: Con.
By my count, that’s three cons, two pros and one “doesn’t matter, he’ll be nailing hot chicks wherever he ends up”, so I guess from my perspective, Oden should come back for another year. But hey, that’s just the result of this highly unscientific method of deliberation. Hopefully Oden and his parents have a better way to figure it out, like flipping a coin or playing rock-paper-scissors.