Anatomy 101

Posted by Kevin Arnovitz

Will Carroll -- one of the smartest humans alive on all matters baseball -- writes a lucid piece for Basketball Prospectus sizing up the issues surrounding the Greg Oden injury. Carroll spent some time talking to, among others, Dr. Philip Kwong of the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles. Kwong says the injury is...

...closer to a simple ankle sprain more than a serious foot problem. Given the mechanism of injury - stepping on another player's foot when coming down from a jump - this makes sense.

How will this affect Oden? Once he gets back, he'll have some limitations. Dr. Kwong told me "the latent result of this injury is less mobility at these joints when the foot needs to twist. In basketball, quick change of direction and especially the first step is affected; playing defense is more a liability when reacting to an offensive players moves." Of course, Oden's game is not a quick, lateral game. He's a big man who will mostly stand in the middle and post up. While he'll obviously need some level of quickness and lateral motion, you can see why this injury will affect Oden less than it would Monta Ellis or Bruce Bowen.

The bigger concern is whether this is related to Oden's knee surgery or whether this, along with the knee injury, is related to Oden's weight. Oden burst onto the scene in Indianapolis as a manchild, a fully developed player who's body and features led many on first sight to question his true age. Comparing him to the average high school player was very literally man among boys, but then the tales started coming about his workouts with pro players such as Jermaine O'Neal. While he was outclassing high school competition, he wasn't thought to have an "NBA-ready" body. Most questioned his upper body strength and it appears that the Blazers did as well. Several people I spoke with, including Chris May of Hoosier Authority, a basketball publication that covers Indiana high school sports, believe he's put on significant muscle mass. "He's put on a ton of weight," May told me. "I've most noticed it since he left Ohio State, with the vast majority in his upper body." In fact, the official stats themselves bear this out. Listed at 7'0", 245 at Ohio State in his one season there, Oden is now listed at 7'0", 285. While any listed weight must be taken with a grain of salt, a 40-pound gain is massive and one that will put additional stress on both his knees and his feet.

The biggest concern for Oden and the Blazers, then, is not the injury itself, but the contributing factors. Whether those are weight, shoes, or just being patient enough to let the injury heal remain to be seen and will involve all levels of the organization.

[Hat Tip: Kevin Pelton]