Greg Oden Will Start An NBA Game For The First Time Since 2009S

LeBron James is sitting out today's game against the Bulls with a broken nose, and Greg Oden, in a surprising decision, will take his place in Miami's starting five. The last time Oden started was Dec. 5, 2009; he fractured his left patella in the first quarter of that game. But in Oden's case, what does "start" really mean?

Oden's played 10 games with the Heat this season for an average of 7.8 minutes per game, because the team's clearly aware that it's better to use Oden with minor minutes and get a more effective, healthy center out of it. Starting doesn't necessarily indicate that Oden's minutes are going to drastically change, though.

Instead of screwing around with the bench, Erik Spoelstra may believe it's easier to plug Oden in as a starter and keep the rest of his rotation in place. Oden could see double-digit minutes, but the coaching staff's not dumb enough to leave those knees on the court for a long time. (Right?) So yes, Oden's starting, in the technical sense, and that's really encouraging to see, but starting doesn't mean substantial court time, hopefully.

Photo: AP