Of all the teams pursuing Free Agent big man, Greg Oden, I believe the best choice for him is in the Western Conference with the San Antonio Spurs.
I know, I know… the lure of playing in South Beach alongside LeBron James has to be extremely tempting. No one would blame Oden for wanting the opportunity to win a ring regardless of how much he contributes. Though the Miami Heat are the defending champs, it’s no secret they need a big man who can play defense and rebound to keep the rest of the Eastern Conference at bay. If Pat Riley wants to help LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh complete their mission of continually getting to the NBA Finals, they need more than Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier, and Chris Andersen to bang with the Carlos Boozer’s, Joakim Noah’s, David West’s, and Roy Hibbert’s of the East.
However, if Oden really wants to revive his career, and actually HAVE a career, the better long term fit would be in South Texas with Tim Duncan. Just practicing with one of the greatest post players to ever play the game should tip the scale for Oden’s decision. Oden would learn far more from Tim Duncan on how to be a professional and elevate his game than anyone on any other roster. When Oden was the number one pick in 2007, he had all the tools and potential in the world, but multiple injuries have piled on to set him back and put him in “bust” territory. Maybe following in the footsteps of two other number one picks that brought the Larry O’Brien trophy to The Alamo City will reap the rewards long expected of Oden.
After David Robinson retired in 2003, Pop managed to turn all sorts of lesser talented players into serviceable compliments in the paint for Duncan. The Spurs roster has seen the likes of Rasho Nesterovich, Nazr Mohammed, Fabricio Oberto, Francisco Elson, and Tiago Splitter, who are nowhere near as talented as Greg Oden. Duncan and Oden on the floor together would bring back memories of championship defense when The Big Fundamental and The Admiral patrolled the paint. This time around, Duncan would be the aging veteran doing the teaching and deferring to the young up-and-comer.
Another benefit for Oden should he choose the Spurs, is their reputation for monitoring minutes. With all the injuries Oden has suffered, he should seriously consider a system that has a history of taking care of the health of their players and not over using them. With Splitter, Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner and newly signed Jeff Pendergraph on the roster, Oden will have plenty of time to continue rehab and get into game shape before hitting the floor. When he does get playing time, he can focus on the defensive end and there won’t be any pressure on him to contribute points with all the Spurs offensive firepower.
With the world’s best player, the Heat are poised to go back to the NBA Finals again and again. If Oden joins the fun in South Beach and just wants a ring, no one would blame him… but if he wants to be the player everyone thought he could be in 2007 and possibly take over the reigns to a franchise, he would be better served to take his talents to South Texas to build a better future for himself and learn from one of the best big men in NBA history.