Hope. Frustration. Unknown.
On Wednesday night, Twitter was abuzz and the basketball universe was smiling down on the scene that took place in Washington.
It wasn’t because the Washington Wizards beat the Miami Heat, but because of something so insignificant — or significant depending on how you look at it — that it only lasted eight minutes.
No, that wasn’t the Houston Rockets’ fourth quarter stat line on Thursday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, it’s Greg Oden’s stat line during his season-debut on Wednesday night. It was also his first official game action since 2009.
But what does that mean?
First things first, were there any setbacks after the fact?
Well, according to Oden, no:
After the workout, Oden said his knees responded “fine [with] no swelling” from his first meaningful game action since Dec. 5, 2009, when he suffered his second season-ending knee injury as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers.
“It’s nothing I can’t manage,” Oden said Thursday of the minor soreness he attributed to general wear and tear from playing in a game. “I’m just looking forward to playing in the next game. I got to play in a game. That’s what it really is, when you’re able to battle and be out there. I would have loved for us to win and say I was able to give us a spark. But you just move on to the next game, and hope I can play.”
Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said after practice on Thursday that Oden would go through another circuit of conditioning and tests before evaluating his status for the Heat’s upcoming games. With that said, according to all accounts, there haven’t been any setbacks…so far.
On October 23, during a preseason game, Oden played a four-minute stint and looked promising in his time on the court (much like he’s had all career long). However, swelling and conditioning issues kept Oden from getting back on the court in the subsequent weeks.
Again, this time around, so far so good.
So, what’s next?
Well, Oden said that he hopes that he doesn’t have to wait weeks or months before he plays again. Hopes. Weeks. Months.
Three words which bring frustration and the unknown.
However, was Wednesday night’s stint false hope or a sign of just the beginning for a secret weapon that is being prepped?
We still don’t know, and we may not know until weeks or months from now.
But let’s say Oden is able to work himself up to 15 minutes per game, roughly. I know it’s not likely, and statistically (and historically) it is very unlikely, but for the sake of argument let’s say it happens.
It’ll give the Heat a “secret weapon”. It’ll give the Heat another option. Most importantly, it’ll give the Heat something that they’ve never had during the Big Three era — an effective seven-footer.
He won’t have to score, he’ll just have to rebound and block (or adjust) shots. That’s it.
He won’t have to run up the court on breakaways, he won’t have to make the extra pass or the explosive slam dunk — he’ll just have to rebound and block shots. That’s it.
And that’s all the Heat will need. That alone will give the Heat something that opposing teams haven’t seen. If Oden can give the Heat 15-20 minutes against Roy Hibbert and/or Tim Duncan in May/June, what then?
What then, when the Heat have an answer for their biggest question during the past two seasons — size.
I guess we’ll cross that road when we get there, but I think you know where I’m getting at.
So either way, Oden is going to bring three things to the Heat or its opponents — hope, frustration and the unknown.
If Oden can evolve into what the Heat have envisioned since he signed with the team this past offseason, it’ll be hope (for the Heat), frustration and unknown (for their opponents).
Still, that’s probably five or six steps down the road. Step one is cleared, according to reports. It’s still not known when step two will get a go, but it’s only a matter of time until we get an answer. For the time being, Oden is off to a good start — something that he hasn’t heard in a really long time.
“Well, it was in the past,” Oden said of some of the struggles and setbacks he’s dealt with working to get his body back into NBA shape. “So I’m not going to speak about that. But there’s no soreness now.”
Hope. Frustration. Unknown.