Rookie Rankings -- Week 13
Posted Feb 7 2008 10:13PM
SECAUCUS, NJ, Jan. 30, 2008 -- Greg Oden has been missing from the Rookie Rankings this year sort of like how the Winslows' youngest daughter, Judy, was mysteriously omitted from the last five seasons of Family Matters.
While Judy was written off the show, Oden hasn't been written into the rankings because after the No. 1 pick underwent microfracture surgery back in September, there hasn't been much to report. Rehab is pretty mundane stuff.
Even though the legit 7-footer hasn't suited up for a game yet this season, your e-mails still crowded my inbox, "Where's Greg? ... How's Oden doing? ... Wouldn't the Blazers be even better if G.O. was able to play?"
Now that we've come to the middle of the season and the rosters for the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge have been announced, today is as good as time as any to catch up with Oden and see how the early front-runner for the 2009 Rookie of the Year is doing.
Dave: How are you feeling right now? How's your health?
Greg: My health is great. I'm starting to do a lot more stuff on the court. I feel good, my spirits are high. I'm still kind of disappointed that I can't play, but everything else besides me not being able to play is fine, it's perfect.
Dave: I read a quote where you said that your shirt is "one half a hot dog away from bustin'" because you've added so much upper body strength. I guess there is a silver lining to your injury because you've got to add some strength that's going to help you next season.
Greg: I've been in the weight room a lot because I don't really have much else to do besides lift. It's something I like to do. You know, the guys have an hour and a half practice and I'm done with my rehab in 20 or 25 minutes, so what else can I do with my time other than do a lot of ab work or a lot of upper-body lifting? I can't really run yet. I'm starting right now to do a lot on the bike and the Elliptical to try to lose some fat and some weight so when I do get on the court it won't be as strenuous on my knee.
Dave: People were a little concerned because they heard the figure come out that you gained 20 pounds. Obviously you gained a lot of muscle, but you're a big guy and with not being able to run, is weight gain just a natural thing that's gonig to occur during the rehab process?
Greg: Yeah, but it's not like I'm super big at all or to the point where you would get nervous. I actually look good. I look like I should be ready to play in the NBA right now.
Dave: Now you've had your own unique rookie experience, and you have your teammate Taurean Green who's been on the bench most of this year and your other teammate Josh McRoberts who was assigned to the D-League ... Do you guys talk about how even though you're all rookies on the same team, you've gone through very different experiences so far?
Greg: We've never really sat down and talked about it, but we do all notice it. We all are doing different things. Unfortunately Josh isn't here right now, but me and Taurean are and we see each other and when we're around each other we hang out a lot. So, I mean, we're pretty close and we know we've all going through different experiences but it's a long journey and we're going to keep on working at it.
Dave: And your teammates from last year at Ohio State, Mike Conley and Daequan Cook, they're two other guys going through their own rookie journeys. Have you stayed in touch with them?
Greg: Yeah, I talk to those guys. We were just in Miami a couple weeks ago so I was staying at Daequan's house and I talk to Mike every now and then. It was hard for me when it was one week, or two weeks in a row, where both those guys were starting. For me, it was like, "Man, they're both starting and I was drafted first and I'm not even going to be able to play (this season)."
Dave: Coach McMillan has been taking you on road trips and has wanted you to check out guys like Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett to see what they do and see how they dominate the game. Has that been beneficial to you?
Greg: It is. Just to see guys who are dominating the game and see what they're doing, I can look at it and see what personally I can do. It's always good to learn, so being able to see what they do and take something from them is going to help me and my game.
Dave: I need to ask you about the hair. You're growing it out a little bit? You got a little mini-fro going on there?
Greg: (Laughing) I got a little mini-fro. It's one of those things that's not a big deal to me. When I grew out my beard people always say something, but I'm like, "It's just a beard. It's just hair."
Dave: You're no longer a teenager, so you can't get the, "You look much older than a teenager" jokes anymore. Happy birthday on being 20-years old. How was that? Any celebration?
Greg: Actually, it was nothing big. No celebration. On my birthday we were in New Orleans and I had an appearance with Spalding and I went to the Boys & Girls Club and I met some little kids. They actually surprised me with a birthday cake, so it was fun to just be there and be around the little kids on my birthday.
Dave: We're dot-commers here and we're always on the Internet and it's been nice that you've kept up with your blog. Do you enjoy blogging? Is it an escape for you?
Greg: I mean, it's something I do just to get some things off my chest. I don't do it all of the time. They want me to do like three a week and I'm like, "Nah, I'm way too busy for that." But, every once in a while when I can get to it, maybe once a week, is when I feel like writing something. It may not be that long, but you know, it's something to get a little bit of what's going on in my life off my chest.
Dave: In your most-recent blog post you talk about one of your friends who passed away. Was that a tough thing to go through, the anniversary of that?
Greg: It was really tough. I'm just very thankful that Coach Nate allowed me to go home and surprise his family because, really, when I walked up to the door and rung the doorbell, his sister was stunned that I was there. Then I went up and his mom was in her bed crying and his dad was asleep. It was a bad day. I can hardly tell you, it was a bad day. But then we went out to eat and it was just like their spirits just lifted up. That was one of the most personal blogs I've ever written, but that was something that really means something to me.
Dave: Looking at the halfway mark of the season for the Trail Blazers, and a team that was in the lottery a year ago, now you're around a playoff-bound team it looks like. What's that been like? A lot of rookies, like the Florida guys, have to go through the transition of losing more games in the first month of the NBA season then they did during all of college. You've actually gone from a great year at Ohio State to being a part of something special in Portland. What's the run been like so far?
Greg: It's been great. I'm not a loser. I'm not a good loser at all. For these guys to be doing so well and winning, it just makes me feel a lot better, but there's also a point where I realized that I didn't really do anything to help this team out there on the court. All I can do is help myself off the court and get my knee and my body right for next year. I wish I was helping, but I'm really just "there." But, they're doing such a great job and it's fun to be around and they take that little bit of thought that I have that I'm not doing anything and they make it a lot easier for me by keeping me around and talking to me and keeping me involved.
Dave: Looking forward, what's your time frame? When do you think you'll be doing full-contact basketball up-and-down the court again? I know you said you don't plan on coming back this year and rushing it, but, when will you be back to the Greg Oden of old?
Greg: I probably won't be doing anything really hard basketball-wise until September, right before training camp. Hopefully I can get some running in and try to get in better shape this summer.
Korleone Young slide of the week: J. Moon, TOR; Sean Williams, NJN (-2).
Overall Rankings - Week 13
RED = Rookie Leader (Must Qualify)
The Next 10 (alphabetical order): Corey Brewer (MIN), Aaron Brooks (HOU), Daequan Cook (MIA), Glen Davis (BOS), Carl Landry (HOU), Joakim Noah (CHI), Jason Smith (PHI), Rodney Stuckey (DET), Nick Young (WAS), Thaddeus Young (PHI)
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