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Whitlock- Oden Better Prospect than Durant

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Deeper_Background, Mar 13, 2007.

  1. Deeper_Background

    Deeper_Background Active Member

    After he dropped 25 first-half points on Kansas nine days ago, I called "The Kevin Durant Show" the best thing to happen to college basketball since Larry Bird, the most exciting thing to happen to college hoops since The Fab Five, and I called Durant the second coming of Tiger Woods.

    I regret none of it.

    But after watching Doogie Hoopster torch Big 12 Tournament foes with scoring outbursts of 40, 37 and 37 and witnessing his Texas Longhorns squeak by Baylor and Oklahoma State and blow a 22-point lead to Kansas in the title game, I'm thoroughly convinced Greg Oden is the better pro prospect right now.

    I'm equally convinced Durant would greatly benefit from another year in college hoops and some coaching-staff pressure to share the ball and elevate his teammates.

    Even with a four-freshman-one-sophomore lineup, the Longhorns have no business sporting a 24-9 record and No. 4 seed. They've underachieved.

    With the right style of play, the Longhorns could win the national title this year.

    The "right style" can only be achieved if Durant sets the tone by passing the ball to his teammates. "The Kevin Durant Show" amazingly finished its three-game stint at the Big 12 Tournament with just one assist.

    The Longhorns didn't blow layups or miss a bunch of open looks. Durant recorded one assist over the weekend because he very rarely passed the ball, and he damn sure didn't pass it to teammates cutting to the hoop.

    With Durant leading its attack and coach Rick Barnes helplessly/foolishly/lazily squatting along the bench, Texas plays pick-up basketball.

    It's pretty much every man for himself at Texas, except when lightning point guard D.J. Augustin gets in the lane and decides to dish.

    When Durant's shots are falling, Texas is close to unbeatable. That's why the Longhorns raced to an 18-point advantage in their first game with Kansas and a 22-point lead against Kansas on Sunday.

    When Durant's shots aren't falling, Texas looks poorly coached, terribly selfish and very beatable. That's why the Longhorns are 0-2 against Kansas and surrendered huge leads in a matter of minutes to the top-seeded Jayhawks.

    Durant doesn't give the ball up, so his teammates are reluctant to give it up when they get it.

    No team in the country fires as many bad shots early in the shot clock as Texas. Augustin, A.J. Abrams, Damion James and Justin Mason -- the starters alongside Durant -- are totally unafraid to go one on five, especially Abrams and Augustin.

    Texas scored 84 points on Sunday and recorded just eight assists. Augustin had six of the assists.

    My point is that right now Kevin Durant does not make his teammates better. You could argue that he brings out the worst in his teammates.

    Maybe Durant looks like what Michael Jordan would've looked like had he not gone to Dean Smith's North Carolina and been forced to play alongside James Worthy and Sam Perkins.

    Whatever the case or cause, Durant needs to discover his inner Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, because Durant is not the next Michael Jordan.

    Jordan could drive to the lane, elevate and get his shot off at any time. Durant, at 6-foot-10 and with limited ballhandling skills, cannot dribble, drive and finish. When he puts it on the floor more than twice, he rarely gets off a good shot.

    Right now, when he drives, a defender will tie up the ball at Durant's waist and the refs bail Durant out with a whistle and send him to the line. At the next level, he won't get bailed out. He'll get stripped and be relegated to a long-range bomber because he's not physically ready to survive as a post player against grown men.

    Durant does have a beautiful stroke. Unfortunately that stroke seems to be greatly bothered by quick defenders. Kansas' 6-7 Brandon Rush slowed the "Durant Show" by crowding the freshman (Durant was four of 19 from the field with Rush guarding him on Sunday). There will be lots of 6-9 small forwards capable of crowding Durant in the NBA.

    Again, I love Durant. I love his potential. I love the purity of his spirit and personality. I love the lack of tattoos, vanity and arrogance. He's coachable and comes from a great family. He's going to be a very good NBA player.

    His game just needs to grow. He can make things a lot easier on his teammates and give the Longhorns more upside if he would distribute the basketball and move without the ball.

    The last college player I remember seeing with close to as much talent as Durant was Purdue's Glenn Robinson. The Big Dog never developed his game and was satisfied just being a spot-up shooter in the NBA. He never came close to reaching his potential.

    At this moment, given the current development of his overall game, the worst-case scenario is Durant is the second coming of Glenn Robinson and the best-case scenario is he's the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki.

    Durant could be so much more than Nowitzki. Durant could be Bird, a legend.

    Most NBA scouts prefer Oden over Durant because they know the 7-foot Ohio State center will instantly improve the play of his teammates. If the scouts thought the same thing about Durant, he'd be the consensus No. 1 choice ahead of Oden.

  2. CollegeJournalist

    CollegeJournalist Active Member

    Good read, and I think it's pretty accurate.

    I'd take Oden over Durant and not think about it if I was a pro scout, just because Oden has the potential to be the best player at his position in a long time. He's the Lebron James of this draft, in that he is a guy that could turn into the most dominant center in the league by the time he's done.

    It's hard to say if he's going to pass up Hakeem or Shaq as the best centers of this era, but that's what the draft is based on--potential. He's a defensive beast, he's developed a great offensive game (with a broken hand) and he makes everyone around him better, just as Whitlock said.

    They're both going to be great, but I'm partial to Oden.
  3. Chuck~Taylor

    Chuck~Taylor Active Member

    Here's how I look at it. Durant is obviously the better offensive player and Oden is the better defensive player. But I think Durant has the potential to become just as good as Oden on the defensive side. People forget that Durant is a pretty darn good defender. He made some key blocks(6 total) against Kansas during the Championship game.
  4. Mmac

    Mmac Guest

    His analogy to Glenn Robinson is an astute one. People forget after his mediocre pro career that Robinson had 2 of the most dominant seasons in NCAA history in 93 and 94 when he was known as the "Big Dog" at Purdue, and everybody was certain he was a future NBA superstar when he was taken with the No. 1 pick in 94--ranked well ahead of guys like Jason Kidd and Grant Hill. Plus, there's some striking similarities in their styles--Robinson was a 6'8" guy who appeared to be an unstoppable scorer, shooter, and athlete in college, but who had limited passing and dribbling abilities. The GR analogy may help explain why most pro scouts still prefer Oden.
  5. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    I agree with J_W's premise ... but not with his thought process behind it.

    Oden being the better prospect has nothing to do with a Durant negative. Durant is going to be what Kevin Garnett never has been.

    Oden is the better prospect for a very simple reason ... they don't make big men with dominant offensive skills anymore. It's like a baseball scout finding a polished catcher in college ball ... he's more valuable because there are so few of them out there.
  6. Oz

    Oz Well-Known Member

    Agree with Whitlock's column. My problem with how Texas plays is that when Durant's hot, everyone else tends to stand around. They don't move. They don't get involved. It's Durant and everyone else, which eventually lets teams like KU come back from 18- and 22-point deficits in eight days to win.

    The hot streaks are great, but you know that cold streak is lurking right around the corner with this team.
  7. Mmac

    Mmac Guest

    I assume you meant "defensive"?
  8. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    No, Mmac. I meant what I said ... offensive. He has a superb offensive game that is just now emerging with his wrist healing. His offensive repertoire has considerably more depth than most big men today who have the 5-foot baby hook, thunder-dunks and little else.
  9. Chuck~Taylor

    Chuck~Taylor Active Member

    Exactly. Those two games against Kansas were mirror like.
  10. Mmac

    Mmac Guest

    Then that's a rather foolish misinformed statement. I've been following Oden since he was 16, and CLEARLY the reason Oden is considered such a special once-in-a-generation prospect is because of his ability to swallow up the lane and control the game DEFENSIVELY. That's also why he'll likely be the No. 1 pick, despite Durant's immensely superior offensive statistics. I thought that was pretty much universally understood by all hoops experts. His offensive game is rapidly improving, and he's gonna be devastating once its fully developed. But there have been plenty of big men who could score as well as Oden, but we haven't seen one with his kind of interior defensive potential in many years (the Georgetown trio of Ewing, Mourning, and Mutombo were the last 3 in the same class).
  11. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    OK, if it's so misinformed, you name the current big men with Oden's offensive skills.
  12. Anywhere? Or in college?
    Whitlock's column is interesting, provocative, and relatively evidence free.
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