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Greg Oden

One of the most anticipated NBA rookie debuts in some time was again cut short last night when Portland center Greg Oden rolled his ankle just 2-plus minutes into his first official NBA game, a loss the Lakers. Oden finished the game with zero points, five rebounds and one resounding blocked shot of Andrew Bynum, which we have for you:

Unfortunately, that was Oden’s sole highlight from his NBA debut. Obviously, his performance takes a backseat to his health and his ankle troubles — something that started in preseason — are making people think of Bill Walton’s career with Portland again; although, I’m not sure Oden shares in that pessimism. When asked about his ankle, Oden indicated it was tender but didn’t act like he was in any danger of being out for an extended period of time.

He’s scheduled for an MRI today and the x-rays taken last night were inconclusive. With that in mind, I’m not ready to throw the Oden towel in quite yet. Nor am I willing to believe he’s a walking injury waiting to happen. Call me naive, but ankle sprains are apart of basketball. I’m more troubled by some of the things his teammates said after the game than I am with Oden’s ankle. LeMarcus Aldridge indicated Oden’s presence changed offensive outlook of the team:

I don’t think he was really scared, but everyone was passive. I can say for myself I think my whole mentality was to play off Greg, which is a different mentality I possessed from last year, so I felt like I was playing passive, as well.”

Big men have a way of slowing offensive possessions down and you could tell the Blazers were making a conscious effort to involve Oden when he was in the game. This is where nagging injuries like sprains make the most impact: it’s hard for Oden to get acclimated with his place on the team and vice versa.