As any NBA fan can tell you, potential doesn’t always translate into on-court success. If you want proof of that reality, you don’t need to look any further than Greg Oden. While the big man seemed destined for stardom with the Portland Trail Blazers, injuries prevented his professional career from ever getting off the ground.
Although Oden will go down as one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history, his time in the pros wasn’t a complete waste. The center did manage to make $24 million in salary, despite struggling to stay healthy.
Greg Oden’s road to the NBA
These days, it’s almost impossible to remember Greg Oden as anything other than a constantly-injured NBA bust. Before he turned pro, however, the big man seemed like a surefire star.
Oden played his high school basketball in Indianapolis, Indiana, and promptly made a name for himself. He helped Lawrence North High School win three consecutive state titles, claimed two-time Gatorade National Player of the Year honors, and was named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball. After graduation, Oden and his teammate, Mike Conley Jr., decided to take their collective talents to Ohio State.
Although Oden missed the start of the campaign after offseason wrist surgery, his talent shone through as soon as he hit the court. The big man averaged 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game during his only collegiate season; the Buckeyes made it all the way to the National Championship game but fell to the Florida Gators.
Shortly after, Oden entered the 2007 NBA draft. At that point, though, everything would start to unravel.
An injury-plagued NBA career
When the 2007 NBA draft rolled around, the Portland Trail Blazers selected Greg Oden with the first overall pick. While they expected the big man to become a franchise cornerstone, his career went in the complete opposite direction.
In September 2007, Oden had right knee surgery causing him to miss the entire season. He returned to action in 2008, but didn’t find a great deal of success; due to a variety of smaller injuries, he only played 61 games that year, averaging 8.9 points and 7 rebounds per outing.
After that campaign, however, Oden’s injury problems only got worse. He played 21 games in 2009 before suffering a season-ending left patella fracture; in 2010, he had another setback, needing microfracture surgery on his left knee. After the big man needed yet another procedure, the Blazers finally had enough and released him in 2012.
Oden attempted a comeback during the 2013-14 season, but only played 23 games with the Miami Heat. Unable to land an NBA job, he spent a brief spell in China; that proved to be his last shot at professional basketball.
Greg Oden didn’t have much of a career, but he still made $24 million in salary
For all of Greg Oden’s potential, the big man simply couldn’t stay on the court. Thanks to his constant knee problems, the center only played 105 games during his NBA career; he averaged 8 points and 6.2 rebounds per outing.
While that unfortunate reality affected Oden’s long-term earning power, he still managed to make a nice amount during his brief time in the pros. According to Spotrac, the big man earned a little over $24 million during his time in the association; CelebrityNetWorth also estimates his fortune at $16 million. Although Oden “descended into alcoholism,” as documented by the Indianapolis Star, he’s since gotten married, earned his degree from Ohio State, and gotten back on track.
On the court, Oden’s career never lived up to the hype. From a financial perspective, though, he still ended up in a pretty good place.