Greg Oden and Portland’s Top Pick Curse

It’s a player’s dream to be picked ahead of all in his class. It means that among the batch, you shown the best potential and this could green light a Hall of Fame career. But you can’t help but wish to be picked low if one of these teams were up top in the draft order. Unlike San Antonio whose top selections – namely David Robinson and Tim Duncan, Orlando – a team that picked Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber (although traded to Golden State for the rights of Penny Hardaway), and Dwight Howard, and Houston – a squad that had guys like Elvin Hayes, Ralph Sampson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Yao Ming in their talent showcase, the squads I mentioned failed to create the buzz they hope to generate.

The Los Angeles Clippers is a team that can seem to get a break in their selections... sometimes. Danny Manning’s injuries caused his career to fade from superstar to a serviceable sixth man but this can’t be said to Michael Olowakandi. Except for one time where he almost scored 11 points per game, The Kandi Man was nothing more than a glorified benchwarmer with a top pick tag. Hopefully, Blake Griffin can break “the tradition” even if he started his should-have-been-rookie-season sitting on the bench entirely because of a freak accident. 

The other team? It’s the Portland Trail Blazers. In the first place, the reason why this article came about is because I saw online that Greg Oden will sit out this season. All of a sudden, the price tag of Spanish superstar Rudy Fernandez has just gone up. And this is not because of Oden... or Joel Pryzbilla for that matter. Earlier in the week, Brandon Roy was also diagnosed with a freak injury that should hamper his chances to have a meaningful season.

Throughout their history, the Blazers have had four top picks and two second overall selections.

Check these guys out.

1971 – Sidney Wicks, UCLA - #2 pick
The Blazers’ top draft pick curse didn’t start with Sidney Wicks. Austin Carr, Cleveland’s first ever top pick, was hampered with injuries throughout his career. He was a 4-time All-Star during his stint with Portland and he was also the only Trail Blazer to win a Rookie of the Year award. Perhaps the only flaw in Wicks was that the Blazers had to pay the Cavaliers 250,000 dollars to select Carr instead of Wicks.

1972 – Larue Martin, Loyola - #1 pick
Forget Pervis Ellison. Hell, forget even Kwame Brown. At least those guys averaged in double figures at least once in their careers. Larue Martin is regarded as the worst first overall pick ever in NBA history. The Portland team officials took him as their top pick after they saw one game where he outplayed collegiate awesomeness, Bill Walton. However, his entire NBA career left a bitter aftertaste on these said officials. The 6’11 behemoth’s game never really took off. His season-high averages are 7.0ppg and a 45 percent shooting clip. After a career that only spanned four seasons, he ended his forgettable career with 5.3ppg and 4.6rpg. Portland could have had a better player had the Blazers pick Bob McAdoo or Dr. J, Julius Erving.

1974 – Bill Walton, UCLA - #1 pick
UCLA’s phenomenal big guy Bill Walton was selected first by the Blazers in 1974. Alongside Maurice Lucas, and Coach Jack Ramsay, and the rest of the Blazers in that 1977 campaign, Walton gave Portland its first and only NBA championship. He was also an All-Star performer and one of the notables to win a MVP award. However, Walton’s career was too short despite lasting the Larry/Magic Era of the late 80’s because of injuries and at one point he sat out for a year to protest Portland’s unethical treatment to their injured players.

1978 – Mychal Thompson, Minnesota - #1 pick
This Bahamian-American is the first foreign-born top pick in league history. Even if Bill Walton won a MVP award and a championship, I think Thompson was their most functional draft pick. Thompson played for the Blazers for eight years and he only missed 23 games. Walton played for the Blazers for five years and aside from missing a season in protest, he also missed 201 because of various reasons, mainly injuries. The only problem for Mychal is that he was never really a superstar. A great fourth option in terms of scoring at best but besides that, he barely resembles as a poster player. While he was a key player for the Blazers, he automatically took a backseat whenever a better player comes to the fold. Jim Paxson is an example and Clyde Drexler was another. While he never won a title for the Blazers, he nailed a couple of rings as a power forward for the World Champions, the Los Angeles Lakers.

1984 – Sam Bowie, Kentucky - #2 pick
Sure, the guy was often-injured, but the guy had a solid NBA career. That’s why I find the “biggest bust” tag on him unfair. Just because he was the filling in that 1984 Draft where he was sandwiched by Olajuwon and Michael Jordan doesn’t mean that he is at all the biggest draft bust of all time. However, had he been healthy and at least garnered monster numbers, he could have avoided the unflattering nickname. After leaving Portland, he had worthy stops with the Nets and the Lakers.

Now 29 years after they selected Thompson, Portland found themselves choosing another first overall pick. What they did was they took the most imposing player in college, with the most mature game and the most obvious potential to succeed in the league... and they drafted him. Greg Oden was the reason aside from Mike Conley and Thaddeus Young that Ohio State made the NCAA Finals to face Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Daequan Cook, and the rest of Florida. Sure, they lost to the Gators but compare Noah’s game to Oden, Oden had a more refined offensive game.

Actually, it seems that he is poised to be the Tim Duncan of the future. He looks like Bill Russell in his prime and with his injury-laden career; he can also be the next Bill Walton once he becomes a leader for the Blazers.

However with the way his career is turning out, he could pretty much be the next Sam Bowie. Slowly, Kevin Durant is starting to clinch superstar status for the Oklahoma City Thunder just like when Jordan, and then Charles Barkley, and then John Stockton were telling people that in their batch, they are better than Bowie.  

And this is bad for Greg Oden.

Can he save himself from the curse?

Game over.


  1. "Greg Oden was the reason aside from Mike Conley and Thaddeus Young that Ohio State made the NCAA Finals to face Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Daequan Cook, and the rest of Florida. Sure, they lost to the Gators but compare Noah’s game to Oden, Oden had a more refined offensive game. "

    For Correction, Thaddeus Young played for Georgia Tech. Daequan Cook was the third freshman in the Ohio State Starting line-up. It is Corey Brewer and not Daequan Cook who played alongside Noah and Horford.

  2. dude thanks for that!

    sorry for the mistake!

    i always mix young and cook apart and well as for brewer...

    hehe i'm sorry!!! :)