While everyone was fixated (and rightfully so) on Kevin Durant popping off for 46 points Tuesday night in a 105-97 over the Portland Trailblazers, there was an above-the-rim meeting between a pair of other 2007 lottery picks — a former Blazer and former Thunder player — that went largely unnoticed. Greg Oden, the former #1 overall pick of the Trailblazers, and Jeff Green, the former #5 overall pick of the Boston Celtics (he was immediately traded to the Seattle Supersonics), are two players whose career arcs went in the complete opposite direction of their one-time teammate/foe and draft companion Durant.
Oden played the equivalent of one NBA season’s worth of games over the course of three seasons, before knee injuries caused him to miss roughly the following four seasons. Meanwhile, Green showed early promise with the Supersonics, before the Thunder dumped his inconsistent play on Boston in exchange for Kendrick Perkins’ now-non-existent play. Green hasn’t been without his own health problems, either — he missed the entire 2011-12 season with after undergoing heart surgery. Thus, the careers of two of the most promising players in the 2007 draft quite possibly could have have been over within five years.
Fortunately, modern medicine allowed both to continue, even if Oden’s comeback was an excruciatingly long journey. He’s made a celebrated return with the Miami Heat (dunks!), and it remains to be seen how much he can contribute in meaningful game situations. Green is still with the Celtics, who appear to be all in on tanking for a top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Of course, it never should have been this way. If God existed, Oden’s block on Green is something we would have been watching for the last seven years. Jeff Green would be Durant’s running mate in Seattle, while Oden would be anchoring a three-headed monster Blazers team featuring Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge…and Oklahoma City would still be the podunk town that was nice enough to host the Hornets after Hurricane Katrina.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go find some traffic to play in.