Portland’s injury woes just went from bad to worse when starting center Greg Oden fractured his left kneecap against Houston on Dec. 5 and will likely miss the rest of the season.
Before his year was cut short, Oden was among the league leaders in field goal percentage (60 percent) and blocks (2.3) and was averaging 11.7 points per game. He missed his entire rookie season because of microfracture surgery and sat out 20 games last season due to foot and knee problems.
Oden’s latest setback is just one of several injuries for the depleted Blazers. Forward Nicolas Batum has yet to play after shoulder surgery, forward Travis Outlaw fractured his foot in mid-November, forward Rudy Fernandez is out 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery to alleviate pain in his right leg and head coach Nate McMillan recently ruptured his right Achilles tendon during practice.
McMillan was participating in practice because the team is so short-handed.
Despite all his shortcomings and inability to stay upright for an entire season, the Portland Trail Blazers are still a better team with Oden in the lineup.
In the 61 games Oden appeared in 2008-09, the Blazers were 40-21 and gave up just 94.1 points per game, which is 2.2 less than what they allowed during the season Oden sat out after microfracture surgery.
“The potential for this team is all going to depend on how fast Oden grows,” said NBA TV analyst Eric Snow. “The faster he grows the closer [Portland] gets to the championship. That’s how important he is to this team.”
During the preseason, Oden averaged a team-high 13.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. I know it’s the preseason, but Oden needed to start somewhere. He is still very raw on offense, but he is moving better and seems to have the spring back in his legs.
The Blazers’ defense and rebounding have been stellar this season thanks to Oden. Portland is holding its opponents to 90 points per game (second behind Charlotte) and has a rebounding margin of 5.2 (tied for first with Memphis).
Now, the Blazers must push forward the rest of the season without their young franchise center.