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Will Greg Oden Spend Time In the NBA D-League Next Season?

Former number one draft selection Greg Oden took the first step to returning to the NBA by signing a two-year contract with the Miami. Still, there's a long road ahead for the big man. Will an assignment or two the NBA D-League be in the cards for him?

USA TODAY Sports

It's all too easy to take advantage and/or manipulate some of the top stories in the NBA into eye-popping headlines.

In the case of Greg Oden and the potential of the big man spending time in the NBA D-League, however, there's undoubtedly a relevant connection.

The former number one overall draft selection took the first step to officially returning to the NBA and proving he simply isn't another bust on Friday night. Oden announced he agreed to join the defending NBA champion Miami Heat, signing a two year contract. Such a pact will include a minimum contract for the first year, and a player option for the second.

It goes without saying that such a snag is a low-risk, high-reward move for Miami. If anything positive can be taken away at this point, the Heat should gain satisfaction over the fact Oden choose them over a handful of other potential NBA destinations.

There's certain to be a long road ahead with regard to proving himself yet again for Oden. That said, what's most in Miami's favor right now is the fact that if the big man can even re-emerge as a shell of his former self, he stands to still be one of the better backup big men in the NBA.

Defensively, Oden undeniably has shown the potential of being a game-changer in the past. Though the Heat like to play small ball with the likes of Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem at center, it could be argued that the team is more so forced to do so than anything. The now former Blazers' center would provide the defending champs with more flexibility and further options. If he's able to get himself back into shape and prove to be capable enough of playing twenty minutes or so per contest, perhaps he would even be provided with a few spot starts here or there.

But first, Oden needs to focus on re-adjusting back to the speed of the professional level. Fresh off entering a single affiliation with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, perhaps the Heat will suggest the NBA D-League be the big man's starting point.

While sharing the Skyforce with multiple NBA teams last season, Miami still managed to assign the likes of Dexter Pittman and Jarvis Varnado to the NBADL. They obviously not only trust the organization, but also believe in what the minor league should truly be utilized for.

Oden would arguably become the highest profile player the D-League has ever seen and/or hosted. Still, his situation and the scenario which he's in are also perhaps taylor made for what the minor league aims to do.

While he would stand to make major contributions if fully healthy and ready to go, the Heat won't pressure Oden to make any type of serious impact early on. Perhaps with that in mind, an assignment or two to Sioux Falls would be better use of everyone's time earlier in the season to help Oden on his road back.

After all, what Oden needs is practice, more court time, and experience against worthy competition yet again. The D-League would be able to provide all of that, and perhaps even more, too.