The fact that Hasheem Thabeet was projected by many to be an NBA bust didn’t deter the Memphis Grizzlies from selecting him second overall in the draft this past summer. Nor did the fact that they already had a more than serviceable center on the roster in Marc Gasol. Nor did any of the obvious warning signs (Thabeet’s struggles to rebound at the NCAA level despite his incredible size, his lack of offensive refinement, etc.).
Thabeet is still just 23 years old and his career is anything but over, but Grizzlies’ coach Lionel Hollins sent a message on Thabeet’s play with perfect clarity when he announced that Iranian center Hamed Haddadi would be supplanting Hasheem as Memphis’ back-up center. Haddadi has played in just four games this calendar year, but it was his defense against the Lakers last night and his work in practice that won him the spot.
I’m sure that Haddadi is giving it his all in practice and he did provide a burst of defensive energy last night, but this move is more about how bad Thabeet has been rather than how well Haddadi has played. The Grizzlies’ biggest weakness is likely their lack of depth across the board, and with Thabeet struggling to produce on either end of the court, Hollins is looking for a spark.