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Former Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard admits Greg Oden could have been a perennial DPOY candidate

Greg Oden, Blazers

Former first-overall pick Greg Oden almost had it all. The stud center came out of Ohio State University and was selected first by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2007 NBA Draft — ahead of Texas’ Kevin Durant. However, injuries derailed what could have been a great professional career for Oden in the NBA.

Oden had multiple microfracture surgeries performed in his early 20’s, essentially missing several seasons. Oden’s body wasn’t also sustainable and couldn’t take on the rigorous grind of the regular campaign.

Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard, who was the Blazers’ general manager when they drafted Oden, told Bob Kravitz of The Athletic that Oden could have been a “perennial defensive player of the year candidate.”

“I saw how good he could be every day in practice,” Pritchard said. “He blocked shots in practice where you said, ‘Only about five to 10 players in the history of the league could do that.’”

“He would have been a perennial defensive player of the year candidate, someone who won games and a playoff series because of his defensive presence alone. And he would have developed a more complete offensive game, a jump hook, a drop step, but he would have kept everything simple. He was a perfect fit for (Lamarcus) Aldridge, (Brandon Roy) and (Nicolas) Batum. They really would have fit together well because their strengths and weaknesses would have complemented one another.

Meanwhile, second overall pick Durant has gone on to play a Hall of Fame-worthy career, although coincidentally he’s dealing with a potentially career-altering Achilles injuries at the moment. That hasn’t stopped Durant from signing a four-year max contract with the Brooklyn Nets to play with friend Kyrie Irving.

Oden would later play for the Miami Heat before pursuing a career in China.