Thursday, October 8, 2009
We Can Rebuild Him
So … how about that Greg Oden?
We’ve had a chance for the first time in a long time to see a healthy and in shape Greg Oden, and even though it’s preseason and against the Kings, but still, some impressive stuff.
You had seen him with a broken wrist, seen him on crutches. You’ve seen his frustration with fouls and how difficult it is to get back in shape a year after microfracture surgery. But what you had not seen is a confident Greg Oden, an Oden who believes in his ability to stay healthy and his conditioning. But if you were able to make it to the Rose Garden or ARCO Arena, you’ve had a chance to see those things first hand.
“I’m in shape,” said Oden. “Last year I was coming in just getting used to playing again. Last summer I couldn’t play all summer so my only playing was here during training camp. Right now I’m actually in shape.”
“He’s done a good job and he’s had a good camp,” said Nate McMillan. “What we want him to do is do what he’s been doing: working his butt off to get in great shape. I think that has shown by how he’s played, his conditioning.”
With improved fitness, Oden is now able to completely trust his body. A baseline spin around Spencer Hawes and a weakside block on Jason Thompson are evidence of that. But trust and conditioning are only minor players in the reconstruction of Greg Oden. The real lynchpin for GO is confidence. It was lost somewhere in the year he spent away from the game, but it’s returning with every practice.
“I definitely have my confidence up,” said Oden. “That’s something that, going through this summer, getting all those shots up, is something that did good.”
Those who have already come to a conclusion on who Greg Oden is going to be as an NBA player seem to discredit the importance of confidence. Having to work yourself into shape, during your rookie season no less, after spending a year away from the game can quickly erode a player’s confidence. It takes time and experience, as well as hundreds of hours on the court and in the weight room, to get it back.
“Last year was his first year,” said McMillan, “not knowing what to expect from teammates, from the league and opponents. This year he’s seen that twice now. He had a year to sit out and observe. Last year he got a taste of playing against teams and players in the league. Now he knows what to expect and what he needs to do to get ready. As you spend time in this league you mature, you get more confident in your ability to do things on the floor, and I think he’s feeling confident that he can play and play at a high level here.”
It’s only two games in preseason against an opponent void of bulk in the post, but if it gives the guy a much needed confidence boost, who cares? It’s something to build on, and Oden is portraying it as such.
“Everything is still a work in progress but it does feel a lot better.”