Hasheem Thabeet finally has done something of note in his first NBA season — become the highest draft pick ever sent down to the D-League.
Ridiculous Upside was first to report that the Grizzlies Friday will assign Thabeet to the Dakota Wizards (rookie guard Lester Hudson will join him). This will only increase the cries of “Thabust” among the Memphis fan base.
Thabeet was selected second overall in last year’s draft, picked up by the Grizzlies who hoped to develop someone a raw big man into a defensive force who could score enough to keep the other team honest. But Thabeet wasn’t just raw, he was a Cheetah’s lunch on the Serengeti plains raw. His footwork was terrible, the speed of the game seemed to confuse him. He saw limited minutes as his offense was so bad it dragged the second unit down, and his defense needed seasoning as well.
Recently, Hamed Haddadi moved in front of Thabeet on the depth chart, because it was best for a team just three games out of a playoff spot that thinks it has a chance to make it. So if Thabeet needs seasoning and he is at the end of the bench, why not send him to the Dakotas. He needs minutes on the court (and a serious off-season program) to see if he really can play consistently at an NBA level.
It’s the right move, but it’s a sad one to make. Memphis fans are quick to list all the players selected after Thabeet — James Harden and Tyreke Evans and Steph Curry and Jordan Hill and Brandon Jennings and Ty Lawson and… — but Thabeet could still pan out.
Andrew Bynum was painfully raw when he first came up, the Lakers almost hid him for years (and got Kareem Abdul Jabbar to work with him). Now Bynum is a key cog on a championship team. Of course, Bynum came straight out of high school and showed more offensive promise than Thabeet ever has, but stranger things have happened. Just trying to look on the bright side for you, Memphis fans.