The Big Lead offers up an interesting question for debate in advance of Portland's trip to the Meadowlands Thursday night. Will Brook Lopez of the Nets turn out to be a more productive pro player than 2007 first overall draft pick Greg Oden?
There's evidence in Lopez's favor. He's averaging 10.7 points, 8.2 rebouds and two blocks per game, all of which are better than Oden's totals. He's playing seven more minutes a night, but that speaks to Oden's health problems which are certainly a factor in deciding who will wind up being the more productive player when all is said and done.
There's evidence to back up Oden as well. He's got double-doubles in 12 of 31 games (10 of 38 for Lopez), is able to guard on the perimeter and the interior and shoots a much higher percentage. He's a more efficient player than Lopez at this point, and can do more things to help his team win. Unless his health problems turn him into the second coming of Sam Bowie, Oden's likely to end up winning this debate.
That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with Lopez, though. Milwaukee is playing Joe Alexander less than 12 minutes a night and could certainly use Lopez in the frontcourt as they battle for a spot in the postseason. Lopez may be a better fit for the Timberwolves than Kevin Love, although the jury is still out on this one.
Most glaring, however, is the role that Lopez could be playing for the Knicks while Danilo Gallinari continues to rehab a back injury that's turned him into an Italian Frederic Weis. The whole idea of building for 2010 is reliant on creating a team that LeBron James might want to play for, and Lopez qualifies as a worthy running mate. Being better than Oden might be beyond Lopez's ultimate reach, but better than Gallinari seems quite possible.