Blazers still not sure who to draft No. 1


The allure of Portland is getting to Greg Oden.

So, what if the Trail Blazers DON'T take the 7-footer out of Ohio State with the top pick in this week's draft?

"I'd cry," he said.

Kidding aside, he added: "I would be a little disappointed because it's starting to grow on me. The trees. I love it out here."

The Trail Blazers will most likely take either Oden or Kevin Durant, a 6-foot-9 forward, at No. — this Thursday when the NBA draft is held in New York City. Both players worked out for the team last week.

They have a lot in common. Both were heralded out of high school. Both played only one year of college, Oden for the Buckeyes and Durant at Texas.

Both could have an immediate impact on the franchise that drafts them.

The Blazers were not indicating which way they were leaning. General manager Kevin Pritchard said, "there is no consensus" among the team's brass about which player to take.

"We're not ready to make a choice right now," he said. "We owe it to this organization to make the best choice, not the immediate choice."

Oden would be the top pick of many teams because franchise centers are rare. The Blazers, with Zach Randolph and La Marcus Aldridge on the roster, could be one of the few in a position to consider Durant.

Both players, still teenagers, understand what it means to be No. 1.

"It's really something I can't control, if they're going to pick me or not. All I can do is come out here and show them me," Oden said.

"And really, I'm trying to sell me, not the other way around. So I've just got to try to be myself and try to be a good guy."

Said Durant: "It would be an honor for me. But I'm just blessed to be in this position. I'm not going to be picky."

The Blazers, downright giddy over having the first pick, are involving their equally giddy fans, many of whom had lost enthusiasm after several down years.

Billboards around Portland ask fans to honk for their choice. Pritchard joked he gets e-mails reading simply "honk" or "honk, honk." An unscientific poll on the web site had Oden in front, with 77 percent of the vote as of Friday.

After getting a late start in his freshman year at Ohio State because of a wrist injury, Oden led the Buckeyes in scoring (15.7) and rebounding (9.6) and topped the Big Ten in shooting percentage (.616).

The Buckeyes went 35-4 and won the Big Ten's regular-season and tournament titles before advancing to their first national championship game since 1962, where they lost to two-time champion Florida. In the championship game, Oden had 25 points and 12 rebounds.

Durant, The Associated Press Player of the Year, averaged 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds &

one of three players in the country to average more than 20 points and 10 rebounds.

He shot 47 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 82 percent from the foul line. He led the Longhorns in steals and blocked shots and scored at least 30 points a Big 12-record 11 times.

After his workout with Portland, Oden was asked whether he likened himself more to Shaquille O'Neal or Bill Russell. Without hesitation he answered," Russell."

"Ten fingers, 11 rings," he explained.

Durant said he tries to emulate Dirk Nowitzki.

"But I know I'm no where as near as good as Dirk," he said.

Oden, with his quick sense of humor, said it's anyone's guess how it will all shake out. Seattle has the No. 2 pick, so it's likely both players will wind up in the Pacific Northwest.

Oden may still get his trees, either way.

"You never know. Kevin's working out, he's working hard to. Everybody else is working hard," he said. "You never know &

they (the Blazers) might throw a curve ball and draft somebody from Germany."

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