After missing all of last season with a knee injury, the Portland Trail Blazers' big man Greg Oden is ready to begin his highly anticipated NBA career. The number one overall pick in the 2007 draft, Oden is expected to compete for the Rookie of the Year Award this season. And since he's had an extra year of hype behind his debut, it appears he has a target on his back of sorts, even before the regular season has begun.
A couple of days ago, two players for the Sacramento Kings made a bet to see which one could dunk on Greg Oden first -- Kevin Martin was the winner, earning $1000 from teammate Mikki Moore for his efforts. Ricky Davis of the Clippers didn't make a bet with anyone whether they could or couldn't do the same against Oden last night. But he did offer up a reward of $500 to three players on his team if they could get a dunk on Oden during the course of the game. Davis opened the contest to Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, and Al Thornton, but none were able to collect the prize.
Discussing bounties for dunking on the other team's biggest player is a nice diversion from the sad reality of what's been happening on the court recently for the Clippers, and it can be summed up in two words: bad basketball. L.A. managed only 26 first half points, on their way to an 87-75 defeat. At least they broke the 70-point barrier, which is something the team was unable to do in their previous game, an equally ugly loss to the Phoenix Suns.
The team is still playing without Baron Davis, Marcus Camby, Tim Thomas and Ricky Davis, all of whom would likely be playing solid minutes for the team if they were healthy. The lack of talent on the bench is going to be the team's biggest weakness all year, so hopefully the injuries that have kept the starters out of action in the preseason won't continue to be an issue, once the games start to count in the standings next week.