Greg Oden and Kevin Durant: Separate and Unequaled

By Eric G. Satterwhite

Ohio State Buckeye postman Greg Oden and fellow freshman Texas Longhorn forward Kevin Durant have been engaged in a parallel NCAA hoops universe on who is most preeminent. Basketball pundits throughout print media and the Internet have voraciously offered their perspectives on the Oden/Durant analysis yet we here at will present the alternative perspective that the whose better debate lacks teeth since each player has there own distinguished/unique skills and simply put they are two totally dissimilar basketball talents.

In essence’s dissection of Greg Oden will provide clarity on why he is still the NBA General Manager’s consensus number one pick if each player elects to enter this summer’s NBA draft while Kevin Durant will be featured in a follow-up report.

Please note that no individual or team statistics will be utilized in this expose’.

Greg Oden’s Skill Attributes

Any conversation featuring Greg Oden instantly revolves around his exceptional defensive prowess that envelope “can’t teach” anticipatory instincts with the sophisticated hoop intellect to physically execute his will in the paint.

Oden surveys the entire court at an unprecedented level for a center and possesses the best defensive footwork of any amateur prospect in the USA as well as any foreign professional big man. These footwork traits manifested by textbook defensive slides are superior to any center taken in the first round the past two NBA drafts. Oden is a quick study defender and ranks high on both on ball defense and team defense. Coach Matta’s man-to-man defensive philosophy has his wing and backcourt personnel funneling all ball handlers to their man in the middle. Oden’s weak side/rotational help defense is what has NBA scouts most impressed and is right now All-NBA defensive team worthy.

The Buckeyes opposition this season typically have their centers play elbow extended to lure Oden out of the paint yet Oden shadows opposing guards with his knowledge of half court geometry by seemingly always taking the proper measurements to cut off penetration forays. Typically opponents who recognize Oden’s constant shadowing/surveillance of their movements will try to create space in the lane in the attempt to feed Oden’s alleged open man. This offensive concept plays right into the team defensive design of the Buckeyes since Oden has quick recovery timing that causes turnovers to jumpstart Ohio State fast breaks. Greg Oden shatters half court offensive sets with harmony.

Oden as a one-on-one defender often creates space with his offensive opposite and is laterally quick via his anticipation talents to prevent most ball advancement. Oden is equally adept at creating cushion between him and his opposite making him evasive for attaining needless fouls. The Ohio State’s freshman center has a lengthy wingspan that typically forces errant shots, traveling violations, and blocked shots. Speaking of block shots Oden erases Field Goal Attempts from every area of the floor: on the low block, dotted line extended, the perimeter, the baseline, and point blank range. Oden’s rejections are not foreign missile projectiles thrown in the first row but ingeniously deflected on the hardwood for teammate recovery or his own personal acquisition. This in itself reflects a form of mastery.

Furthermore, Oden’s rebounding skills are blue ribbon. Oden has strong hands; fast-twitch muscles personified by quick leaps, and a fundamentally superior box-out technique. Oden will not defer to his outstanding athleticism when crashing the boards due to his conscious effort to locate his man spread his arms earlobe extended while making stationary contact then levitating to snare missed shots. This again is a desired next level skill property and rare amongst “bigs” globally. After attaining the defensive board Oden has a whippet like outlet pass be it a baseball pass, overhead lob, or the proper technique chest pass. Rarely does he commit a turnover when retaining possession.

In closing, Oden’s zeal to dominate the lane with a World Cup goalie defensive disposition is as common as a picnic in Antarctica. Prep basketball players from the United States who have marinated in the video highlight and AAU era that emphasize an offensive mentality are most reluctant to play defense with Oden’s consistent passion. Equally, European basketball, especially their post players, are notoriously poor defenders.

The NBA view is that offensive players are a penny a dozen yet Oden with an old school modus operandi meshed with new school dynamics is the most desired worldwide basketball prospect as a result of his distinct defensive game housed in a seven-foot physical body that is agile, well-muscled, rangy, and symmetrical. Oden plays taller than his listed height and projects his height splendidly by having his arms extended at full measure on any field goal attempt Ohio State’s rival heave in his domain.

Ohio State men’s basketball ranked number 1 for the first time in 45 years has the Buckeye basketball faithful fastened with a G.O.D. complex. This complex is just an acronym for Greg Oden Defense.


Let’s keep it real…Greg Oden is no slouch on offense. Oden has above average low post moves and a first rate drop step. On either low block position Oden can ‘feel” his defender and either whirl baseline for the power dunk, spin move in the lane for a reach power slam/ or ambidextrous jump hook. Oden’s jump hook is released at the height of his spring and is arched with a refined rotation that allows him to make the great opportunity of his field goal attempts. Simply put there is no flair to big Greg’s offensive game – it’s just highly successful.

Oden utilizes his broad shoulders and powerful legs to sustain a low center of gravity that anchors his postposition. Oden’s strength and legal use of his elbows denies his defender from effectively fronting him, which causes Oden to receive a touch without much challenge. Oden rarely frets if he does not receive the pass after attaining on the block placement and will either reset, flash ball side to the opposite elbow or post, when the wing pass is reversed/skipped. Based on the number of times Oden achieves interior advantage he does not receive nowhere near the touches warranted. This is not denial or teammate rejection it’s just the fact OSU has excellent perimeter players and slashers who play off Oden with panache. The Buckeyes wing men and ball handlers keep opponents honest with there perimeter game yet no Buckeye opponent to date be it defending national champion Florida or current co-Big Ten conference leader Wisconsin has treated Oden’s offensive game like the Bulls’ Ben Wallace. Defending Oden in the post is in the game plan of all OSU adversaries.

Oden also exhibits the ability to set legal screens and picks for teammates. Thad Matta’s offense has implemented a pick and roll game via the high post and Oden gathers his floor station for such execution effectively. Oden’s pick and roll aptitude has marveled NBA scouts. When Oden is flashing to the high post or elbow he has good passing mechanics yet is not asked in the OSU offensive approach to gather a plethora of assists. Equally, when Oden catches the ball on the low post the great majority of the time there will be no return passes…Greg Oden after receipt of the rock is hoisting a field goal attempt.

Oden crashes the offensive board with regularity. Utilizing superior footwork Oden either gathers an errant teammate carom or taps it out for an additional shot far more than his contestants warrant. Simply put Oden rarely takes plays off and cannot be simulated against in a rival practice session.

Furthermore, we have not mentioned the fact that Oden had surgery to his dominant shooting hand (the right) and has been very successful shooting free throws left handed. In recent memory there has been no highly touted player to be restricted from his offensive strength namely his shooting hand yet, Oden is a very effective offensive player despite the setback. Oden’s injury has affected his face-up game namely his short-range jumper. No one has seen enough of this shot selection from Oden to rate this skill set, as a result the Buckeyes prized pivot man gets an incomplete in this category. Oden’s opposite hand (the left) free throw deftness/accuracy typifies an inner calm, stellar self-confidence, and sound right/left brain hemisphere placement. Oden’s stoic non-chest thumping demeanor is stately like a full mane lion on Africa’s Serengeti. No need to self promote when all know who rules.

At this stage of 19-year-old Greg Oden’s career his offensive techniques can translate effectively in the Association. Oden’s offensive game will only improve and as anyone who knows about how surgery tweaks/disorient athletic muscle memory it will take Oden a full summer of 1,000 shots daily to regain true form. No sweat for Oden to revitalize his face-up game due to his passion for self-improvement Oden will probably shoot 2,000 shots. Oden to his credit has taken the injury to magnify his ambidexterity and shown all talent evaluators he can play with 1.5 full hand controls on offense, and dominate the NCAA landscape. NBA scouts have no doubt Oden can play with adversity and has the temerity to not utilize his injury as an alibi. Oden’s character is mature beyond his years.

Finally, Basketball Hall of Fame member Oscar Robertson once stated, “Basketball games are won from the free throw line to the baseline.” When a basketball legend that averages a triple double for an entire NBA season states where the game is won that’s worthy of study. The Big O is referencing “the paint” as the battlegrounds for hoops success. Hence, no one outside of the NBA polices the lane with the force and zeal uniform to Greg Oden. Therefore David Stern will announce Greg Oden’s name first this summer if #20 for the Buckeyes seeks his deserved/earned next level rewards.


11 thoughts on “Greg Oden and Kevin Durant: Separate and Unequaled

  1. Eric,

    Can I get an AMEN? As a Buckeys fan and fellow blogger, I have often been asked about the two. Since I write for the Bobcats, many of my readers asked me which I would take should Charlotte get a first round pick if either of them are available. You can see my article here, and as you can see I totally agree with you! Oden and Durant play different positions with different styles of play. The two aren’t even worth comparing because it depends on a teams needs whether they take either of them or not. I do not understand all of the hype surrounding the two of them because they are so different. As a Bobcats fan, I am torn between the two because while we could use a true center (Oden) we could also use a pure shooter (Durant). We’ll see if either of them enter the draft and go from there I suppose!

    Thanks for noticing the difference, I’m glad I’m not the only one!

    Bobcat Bonfire

  2. Hi Serena,


    Again, Oden and Durant are incomparable because they have 2 distinct playing styles in relation to the systems there respective Coach’s employ…I enjoyed your article. Feel free to link this blog to your story for additional topic embellishment. The Bobcats if fortunate to attain Greg’s presence would challenge for a lower seed playoff spot in the East right away. You are not alone on your reasoning. Stay tuned for the Durant breakdown coming soon….

  3. Man, I appreciate the scouting report on Oden, but where is the love for Durant? I’m a longhorn, and this kid is Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Peja, and Kobe wrapped into one. Offensivley, there is nothing he can’t do. He can shoot the 3, post up, bank it off the glass, create his own perimiter shot, mid-range, free throws, pressure shots at the end of games, etc. Defensivley, he’s improving. He turned 18 in September! He can still grow, maybe even up to a 7 footer. Even still, he’s averaging 3.6 steals/blocks per game. There should be no doubt that Durant is the more complete player.

    Please also take into consideration that UT starts 4 freshman and 1 sophomore, and they are ranked in the top 20, and if they beat A&M Wednesday, they could creep towards the top 15. For Durant to lead a team in a tough conference to wins over OK State (almost 2), OU, LSU, Texas Tech, and maybe even the Aggies and Kansas, they will have beaten 3 top 10 teams this season.

    Where’s the love for KD?

  4. Longhorn Mike,

    We here at HoopsAddict have much love for Kevin Durant. The expose’ was flavored above a laymen level to provide clarity why Oden is favored by the majority of NBA GM’s. Of course if teams that have strong post players (Miami, Houston, San Antonio, both Los Angeles franchises) had the number 1 pick Durant would be there guy.

    Yet, the great majority of the remaining teams including front runners like Dallas and Phoenix prefer Oden should they pick first…

    KD is magnificently skilled and this is in no way a slight to his contribution. Stay tuned to HoopsAddict for the KD expose’.

  5. Durant should be the 1st ick because he is a scorer oden can score but not as much as durant. Oden is good he big but he makes alot of fouls so that could be a reson not to pich him first or that durant is better than him. that is what i think.

  6. Oden to Portland. Should be a lock.

    Although putting durant in a line-up with Roy, Randolph and Aldridge is pretty scary also.

    But Portland will take Oden, and defense wins championships.

  7. As a Portland resident and Blazers fan, honestly I can say that whether they pick Oden or Durant, no regrets, no complaints. They were lucky to get #1 in the first place.

    Also I am a Texas fan. I watched Durant all season. This guy is an amazing vacuum cleaner when it comes to scooping up rebounds and loose balls, blocking shots, making steals. OK, so he is 3″ shorter than Oden, but also he will nail 3’s and play stellar defense against a wider range of players out on the perimeter perhaps. Also Durant has the most amazing array of offensive moves, head fakes, jukes, jitters, stutters, etc. that I have ever seen of a player at that age. He is a player that fans will come to watch since you just want to see what amazing thing he is going to do next.

    Then of course there is Oden. Look at the Spurs with Duncan or the Lakers with Shaq: dominated the past 10 years of the NBA. It’s hard to argue that with Oden, in combination with Zach Randolph and LaMarcus Aldridge, and Travis Outlaw, Portland would be a defensive powerhouse, moreso probably than with Durant. And with Zeebo just coming into his All-Star form, and LaMarcus not too far behind that, one could see Portland as a playoff team especially if Brandon Roy can stay healthy all season.

    If the Blazers take Durant, it still seems like they will need a center. I could see them taking Durant and then trading Zach Randolph and Travis Outlaw for another first-rounder like Yi, who is sort of a black horse in this draft. But that would seem much riskier. Even if they took Durant and held onto their current team, maybe LaMarcus would be able to step it up and defend guys like Duncan. It would certainly ask more of the Portland big men on defense.

    But I have a feeling Portland will take the best overall prospect in the draft, and as good as Durant is, it’s hard to pass up someone like Oden. Even still I doubt Oden would be able to create the types of defensive mismatches that having a Durant, Zeebo, Roy, Aldridge, Outlaw, Udoka rotation on the floor together would create, with Jack and Rodriguez distributing the ball around. That would be so fun to watch, too. But what do I know, I’m just an armchair GM.

    Ahhhhh decisions…. decisions…. driving me crazy!!

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