Greg Oden to the rescue
Greg Oden finally made his NBA debut for the Portland Trail Blazers. The No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft, who missed last season because of injuries, looked pretty strong.
Oden began his pro career by dunking two minutes into Portland's 110-81 exhibition win over the Sacramento Kings. Oden, who started at center, played 20 minutes and finished with 13 points, five rebounds and two blocks. He also looked a bit tired at spots.
Overall, though, the 6-foot-11, 285-pound Oden played like an NBA center, scoring four of his five hoops on dunks.
After the game Oden said, "I know I'm not in the best shape of my life, and all I can do is work through that."
But power forward LaMarcus Aldridge was impressed by his teammate: "I think he is going to be rookie of the year. ... I'm going on record and saying that Greg is a man-child."
Portland, which went 41-41 last season without Oden, is loaded with young talent: Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Sergio Rodriguez, Jerryd Bayless, Rudy Fernandez and Travis Outlaw. Most NBA savants have them in the mix for a playoff spot in the Western Conference this season.
Portland opens the regular season at Staples Center against the Lakers on Oct. 28.
-- Barry Stavro
Photo: Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden poses during media day at the Rose Garden on Sept. 29. Credit: Rick Bowmer / Associated Press