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Patrick O'Bryant's Long Road Back Runs Through Puerto Rico

From 9th overall pick in 2006 by the Golden State Warriors to a forgotten big man overseas, Patrick O'Bryant signed this week in Puerto Rico. Where does he go from here?
From 9th overall pick in 2006 by the Golden State Warriors to a forgotten big man overseas, Patrick O'Bryant signed this week in Puerto Rico. Where does he go from here?

Maybe Patrick O'Bryant can find some hope in Gerald Green's story.

O'Bryant and Green's arrival and early NBA departure are intertwined along with their travels around the world for a little basketball soul searching.

They came into the league a year apart from each other as first round selections in 2005 (Green, 18th overall by Boston) and 2006 (O'Bryant, picked 9th by Golden State) and bounced around the league and D-League before taking their games overseas. And while Green officially made his return to the league this past week after signing a 10-day contract with the New Jersey Nets, O'Bryant was busy making moves of his own.

It's about 1,600 miles from Puerto Rico to New Jersey, but for O'Bryant this could be one more step closer to making his own NBA comeback.

Last week O'Bryant signed with Indios de Mayaguez in Puerto Rico's BSN (or National Superior Basketball League as it's also known) and became a bright spot in new additions to the league that have featured NBA vets Jerome James, Ricky Davis, Melvin Ely and Shavlik Randolph over the last month.

As players flock to Puerto Rico to collect another check and teams adjust their rosters bringing in out of work free agents, O'Bryant is one of a select few in the BSN who has a shot at signing back in the D-League by finishing out the season strong.

The 7-foot center our of Bradley arrives in Puerto Rico after starting the season in Greece, where he averaged 9.6 points, six rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in 19 games for Kavala.

It's a far better impression than he made his first time around playing abroad.

O'Bryant was released Fujian in the Chinese Basketball Association in December 2010, after reportedly drawing the ire of the coaching staff for his lackluster practice habits. Next stop: the D-League.

Or back to the D-League in O'Bryant's case.

After clearing waivers last January, he spent last season with the Reno Bighorns -- a return trip to the league for O'Bryant, who was assigned to the Golden State Warriors D-League affiliate, the Bakersfield Jam, in 2006. He knew the road from the Bay Area to Bakersfield all to well. Appearing in 33 games for the Jam over the course of his first two seasons in the league, O'Bryant averaged 13.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. But those first two seasons of pro basketball experience were also filled with frequent growing pains.

He fractured his right foot, repeatedly found himself in Don Nelson's doghouse in Golden State and didn't have the team option on his contract picked up by the Warriors. During the 2008-09 season, O'Bryant split time between the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors, stops once again filled with watching and learning and wondering exactly where his career was going. With 90 NBA games (and averages of 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in roughly six minutes per game) under his belt, O'Bryant jumped overseas to China.

Now the 25-year old O'Bryant gets another fresh start in Puerto Rico.

The development continues.

After Gerald Green last played in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks during the 2008-09 season, the jump-out-of-the-gym forward embarked on a hoops world tour that included stops in China and Russia, before finally returning and finding a home in the D-League with the Los Angeles D-Fenders (by way of training camp with the Los Angeles Lakers).

He refined his game, dedicated himself defensively and caught the eye of a number of front offices around the league by earning MVP honors at the D-League All-Star Game.

Where is O'Bryant in comparison?

The verdict is still out.

He went for 10 points and five rebounds in 16 minutes in his first game for Mayaguez, an 80-70 win against Arecibo, and 11 points, six rebounds and one block in the 93-75 win over Guayama.

One game at a time.

One step at a time.

It's also one stop at a time for Patrick O'Bryant as the long road back now runs through Puerto Rico.