The point of the column is to point out that Joel Przybilla should be in the starting lineup and that Oden should be coming off the bench. But Oden's intitially gregarious personality has seemingly disappeared, and the fact that he's become more withdrawn seems to have the franchise afraid to pull the trigger on that decision. Canzano points out that at the moment, they're treating Oden with kid gloves, to the detriment of the franchise.
I bring this up today because the franchise has one set of standards, rules and expectations for the majority of players -- and apparently another for Oden. ... Look. You can talk about defensive issues. And offensive issues. But if we can't talk about the elephant standing in the Blazers locker room we're all in trouble. And that issue is the one revolving around the franchise's decision to baby its No. 1 pick, wrap him in protective bubble-wrap, pamper his psyche and hand him a starting position that should belong to Przybilla today.While Canzano is mostly interested in getting Przybilla into the starting lineup, I find the issue of Oden's psyche much more intriguing. What happened to the fun-loving dude who used to drop Anchorman quotes in the grocery store? If you listen to those close to the team, unfortunately, those days are long gone.
Rumors of Oden being unable to handle the burden of having the franchise's hopes resting on his broad shoulders began in the preseason, when he seemed genuinely hurt by some harmless criticism of his early play. And after his injury in the first game of the season, he seemed to become less interested in talking to the media about anything of substance.
A few weeks ago, I overheard someone close to the team saying that something inside Oden seems to have changed, and that the outgoing personality that was seen from him early on had completely disappeared. Now, Oden will only give quiet, cliched answers to the media and that most of the time, he's not even worth talking to.
This is pure speculation, but could Oden be suffering from some form of depression? Given the signs, it certainly doesn't seem out of the question. There was a piece on TrueHoop a while back, where it was guessed that 60 percent of players might be depressed, when a source that was close to a lot of NBA players speculated it might be closer to 95 percent.
Oden has been quoted as saying he'd have no problem coming off the bench, if that's what would be best for the team. I wonder if the decreased expectations that would come with that lesser role might be what's best for Oden and his psyche at this point as well.