The Oden-Durant debate
Had a pretty interesting discussion with an Ohio State friend of mine the other day about who is the best freshman in America, OSU big man Greg Oden or Texas' Kevin Durant. He said Oden, a 7-foot-1 shot-blocking monster; I said Durant, who's averaging 25 a game for a top-25 team.
Really, there is no wrong answer. These are two of the best players to grace college basketball in decades. We're only seeing glimpses of what Oden can do. He missed the first month of the season with a right wrist injury and still doesn't have full flexibility there. He shoots his free throws left-handed and most of his field-goal attempts are dunks, but is so strong and intimidating he reminds many of a young Pat Ewing.
Durant, a 6-foot-10 wing, is a national player of the year candidate. He's putting up monster numbers (11.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks to go with his 25 points per game), hitting clutch shots, and looking like he could repeat Carmelo Anthony's feat and take Texas to the promised land as a freshman.
Either Oden or Durant will be the top pick in June's NBA draft. There's a small chance Oden could return for his sophomore season, but he's the best pure post player to come out of college since at least Tim Duncan, probably longer because of his paint presence. Durant, who's almost guaranteed to come out, is more the Kevin Garnett type, capable of doing anything and guarding almost anyone.
If I have the No. 1 pick, I think I'd take Durant. Fewer health questions for now, longer shelf life with his comparatively smaller body, and his game fits the up-tempo style that could mean marketing magic for him and his team. Either way, I'm looking forward to watching both men over the next two months and the impact they have on the college game.