It is the NBA Draft's biggest storyline: Should Greg Oden or Kevin Durant be the No. 1 overall pick? It's hard not to look at the last 15 years of non-Jordan NBA champs and not see the common factor of "Dominant Big
(Now the fallacy of that argument is that it wasn't a great big man alone: Hakeem was unstoppable, but had a great team around him.
If it's all about winning titles, then history says Oden is your guy. But I'd argue that the Finals this month introduced a radical shift to thinking in the NBA, at least FAN thinking:
Titles aren't everything. (Go ahead: Gag.)
No, what matters now is entertainment: There is a faction of fans out there, I'm sure, that would rather be oohed-and-ahhed with entertainment for seven months – without winning a title – than be bored en route to winning another ring.
Rings are how we measure the success of stars, but are they how we measure the satisfaction of fans? This is why we Wizards fans can live without NBA titles, but can't live without Gilbert Arenas.
The Oden-Durant debate tilting to Oden presumes that Oden will be winning gobs of titles. If you recognize that winning titles is a Jordanesque zero-sum game, Oden's titles will be at Durant's expense, along with every other player of Oden's era, including LeBron, Wade, Kobe, Dwight Howard, everyone. That's a tough list to out-perform, even for a dominant center.
So it has to be asked: What if Oden doesn't win titles? Even if Durant doesn't either, you have to further ask: In the absence of titles, wouldn't you rather have the super-thrilling swingman than the dominant (but snazz-free) center?
That's the case for drafting Durant. He may win titles. He may not. But, then again, Oden may not either. But at least with Durant, fans will likely be infinitely more entertained along the way.
Commenters: Who would YOU take, and why?UPDATE: John Hollinger as an absolute must-read about Durant's place as the greatest college-to-NBA prospect of the last half-decade. I used to pimp Carmelo Anthony as that prospect (because of the title), but I concede the argument in the face of Hollinger's quant analysis. Count me a Durant believer. And if I was already leaning toward Durant going No. 1....well, you'll have to wait for my mock draft on Thursday a.m. (No, seriously, read the column. It's amazing. Undervalued: Fazekas, Dudley, McRoberts. Overrated: Brewer(?!?!), Thornton, Nick Young.)