NBA FanHouse walks through the Valley of the Most Likely; we shall fear no topic.
The Blazers and Lakers have a history. Since the 1991 season the two teams have met in the playoffs six times. Two of those times the match up took place in the Western Conference Finals, where the Lakers ripped the hearts out of some of the best teams in Portland Trail Blazer history.
Because of this history, Blazer fans absolutely hate the Lakers. I mean really hate the Lakers. Lakers fans don't like the Blazers that much either, but they've spent so much time hating the Celtics, Spurs, and Kings that the Blazers haven't received that much of their ire.
Well, that all is likely to change this season, as it looks like the Blazers will be competing with the Lakers for Western Conference supremacy for years to come. At the center of that rivalry will be two talented young big men that most feel will dominate the NBA for years to come.
The two young bigs that I'm referring to are none other than the Blazers' Greg Oden and the Lakers' Andrew Bynum. Oden missed all of last season with microfracture knee surgery, so this will be his first official year. Despite missing an entire year, he has looked pretty darn good this pre-season. Bynum is going into his fourth season, but also missed a ton of time last season after injuring a knee. Prior to that injury, 'Drew looked like an absolute beast. He's also shown signs of a return to form this pre-season.
All NBA fans should be getting excited for the battles between theses two. I'm not going to say that this is going to be Russel v. Wilt reincarnated, but both of these guys are going to be very good players. I mean, when was the last time you had two talented young centers with the potential for greatness on stacked teams in the same conference? I guess you could mention Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O'neal from the '90s, but Zo was really a power forward playing center, and Shaq was in L.A. by 1996.
As of now, both Oden and Bynum are pretty evenly matched. Bynum is a little more developed on the offensive end, but Oden is the better of the two on the defensive side of the ball -- although Bynum is no slouch on that side of the ball either. Both are true seven footers, but Oden looks like the better athlete -- though not by much. Bynum just turned 21 and Oden will reach 21 this January.
Basically, the stars have aligned NBA fans. The only question to be answered now is who will dunk on the other first. Okay, maybe that's not the only question. But don't miss a minute of this potentially great match up.
Greg Oden Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey, Getty Images
Andrew Bynum Photo Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld, Getty Images
Most Likely to Start a Great Individual Rivalry: Andrew Bynum and Greg Oden originally appeared on NBA FanHouse on 2008-10-28T19:00:00+00:00. Please see our terms for use of feeds.