OK, well some of the suspense is now kind of out of the conundrum facing Portland GM Kevin Pritchard because ESPN’s Ric Bucher is now saying that the call is for Greg Oden with tonight’s first pick, which means Kevin Durant goes to Seattle, and then the real questions will start being answered. The obvious subplots to keep in mind are numerous — where KG gets traded (if he gets dealt on draft day), will Mike Conley go as high as #3 (hope to hell not), and whom will be silly enough to think that Yi Jianlian can actually have an impact off the bat? Also, which predicted high draft pick will be pulling a Brady Quinn and waiting a lot longer than they expected?
That aside, I’ve long been an Oden backer, and while there are perfectly good and reasonable points to taking Durant with the #1 pick, the overriding factor for me personally is looking at the Western Conference — in dealing with big guys like Amare Stoudemire and Tim Duncan, you need a big defensive presence to match up. I don’t think LaMarcus Aldredge, Joel Pryzbila, or Zach Randolph do that on the defensive end. If there is something that is proven about Greg Oden, it’s his defense and shot-blocking ability. The offensive skills will come with time.