1. Greg Oden is once again out for the season. Should he continue to try to come back to the NBA or take his various major surgeries/injuries as a sign and quit?
Mark: My word, can this guy or the Portland Trail Blazers catch a break? The thing is, of course he should come back, because there’s going to be a team that takes a chance on him regaining at least some of his form after this third microfracture surgery. So why walk away when there’s a potential contract out there waiting for him. But wherever he ends up, the expectations have to be remarkably low for what he can accomplish, and for how long. Keep in mind, Sam Bowie lasted 10 years in this league, so I guess there’s a precedent of some sort.
Devin: The sad tale of Greg Oden seems to be spiraling out of control. It’s no coincidence that a few days before the announcement of the surgery, The Onion ran this article. I still maintain that Oden’s got a ton of talent – in those rare instances when he was on the floor he was a huge difference-maker for the Blazers. But this last injury is the 50th or 60th nail in the coffin for the Oden-vs.-Durant discussion. He’s a truly nice guy, and I hope he makes it on the floor as an effective player one of these days, but for all sorts of unfortunate reasons it looks like he’s the biggest #1 bust since Kwame Brown.
Justin: If Greg can still get enjoyment after going through another surgery and a long rehab process, then I say go for it. At the end of the day he’s not going to make more money doing anything else most likely and someone will be willing to pay for him, even if its the league minimum. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is a good example of a center who constantly seemed to be injured and eventually managed to find a way to put together a pretty nice career, so there is still hope.
DV: I’d quit if I were Oden to save his knees and not be one of those former athletes in his 40s that can barely walk without pain. The dude is still young enough to go back to college, get his degree, and get a regular job. However, because he was a former elite athlete, I’m sure he’ll have some doors open to him somewhere in the real world. And best of all, he has millions already in the bank (I hope) as a base for the rest of his days. This isn’t about quitting on basketball, it’s about building on life.
2. Continuing on the injury theme, which injury (of the many) has had the most negative effect on the team thus far, but will have a big positive when they return?
Mark: Carlos Boozer. Granted, the Chicago Bulls are sitting atop their division right now, so it hasn’t been that hard of a row to hoe there, but I think they get just that much better once he’s back on the court. I don’t know how good he’ll be over the length of his contract, but a Boozer/Derrick Rose combination could be lethal for this league and a boon for Chicago.
Devin: Can I say Yi? Just kidding. Seriously, I’d have to say Carlos Boozer. For a guy to kick off a $80 million contract by missing the first two months is bad, but he’s a supremely talented scorer and rebounder. Derrick Rose is averaging close to nine assists playing around no other real scorers (sorry, Luol Deng). Give him a post presence like Boozer and you’ll see the Bulls rocket ahead of the Central Division very quickly.
Justin: I suppose Troy Murphy would be the answer to that question. While he’s technically “healthy” enough to play right now, it is clear he is not himself and I’m led to believe its because he’s still dealing with pain. If we can get him right again, however, it could make a big impact on the makeup of our team.
DV: I wanted to say Boozer also, but I’ll go with David Lee. Sure, I’m a fan of his and the Golden State Warriors are doing pretty well at 7-4, but with Lee in the lineup they were 6-2 and if you do the math, 1-2 without him. Lee is one of those “glue” guys that does all the things that no one else wants to do. The Warriors are set with scoring from Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, so Lee is left to clean the glass and hustle hard. He should be back soon as he was recently released from the hospital for an elbow infection.
3. Who has been the most surprising player thus far in the NBA?
Mark: I’m going to stick close to home here and pick Troy Murphy. Surprising in a bad way, of course. I’m just utterly shocked as to how out-of-shape he’s looked and I was really looking forward to seeing the Nets play with a legit PF for the first time in years. Of course Kris Humphries is stepping up nicely, but who knows how long that’s going to last.
Devin: Well, it’s no surprise to me, since it’s exactly what I predicted would happen, but Michael Beasley has started to make that leap from “hidden on an okay team” to “prime scorer on bad team.” His jumper has looked as beautiful as ever & he’s not shying away from the big shot (as evidenced by his game-winner against mini Los Angeles this past week). He’s no great player yet – the Timberwolves are still mired in the bottom of the standings, even with him and rebound extraordinaire Kevin Love – but I’m glad he’s finally getting the opportunity to showcase the talent that we all saw in him at Kansas State.
Justin: Paul Millsap of Utah. I had no doubts this guy could be a starter in the league, I have to be honest I did not see a 40 plus point night coming from him and especially in the manner in which he got the 40. Hitting threes late in the game. It is a crime/shame he was not included on the all-star ballot.
DV: Serge Ibaka. This dude should have been the undeniable starter at the center position for the Oklahoma City Thunder straight from the get-go. I’ve personally been high on him for some time now and he’s putting up some relatively great numbers: 12.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.6 BPG, 59.1 FG%, 82.9 FT% in about 30 minutes per. His development to go along with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Jeff Green makes the Thunder a legit threat, if they weren’t already considered as such.