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Grizzlies to send Thabeet to D-League

Feb 25, 2010, 4:23 PM EDT

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.

  1. George Fetzer - Feb 25, 2010 at 6:05 PM

    You can’t teach a guy to grow to 7 foot or taller, but basketball can be taught. It’s definitely not rocket science. If the guy has the heart and willingness to learn he’ll do just fine. If you don’t like him trade him to the Cavs. They need a center, even a center project.

  2. Evan - Hartford - Feb 25, 2010 at 7:00 PM

    Mark, what planet have you been on? Thabeet’s defense led UConn to the Final Four. He was a DOMINANT defensive presence in college.
    The problem is that being really tall helps in College because there is hardly anyone else your size. In the NBA 6’11 and 7 foot guys are a dime a dozen and you need a lot more than size to be effective.

  3. Joe Dumars - Feb 25, 2010 at 7:36 PM

    Finally! A bigger blunder with the #2 pick than Darko!

  4. lexslamman - Feb 25, 2010 at 7:49 PM

    Jim Calhoun does not develop players well and never has, that is what the real issue should be here.

  5. js - Feb 25, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    Yeah, like Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton….

  6. ENH - Feb 25, 2010 at 8:24 PM

    Yeah, like Caron Butler, Rudy Gay, Donyell Marshall, and Charlie Villaneuva …

  7. Kirk - Feb 25, 2010 at 9:03 PM

    He couldn’t dominate in college with BOYS 6″ shorter. It’s ALWAYS been clear that he can’t play, Stevie Wonder could tell you that !

  8. Evan - Hartford - Feb 25, 2010 at 10:36 PM

    Blame Thabeet’s development on Jim Calhoun? Totally nuts.
    Thabeet’s played like 6 years of organized ball. There are kids in elementary school that have been playing longer than him.

  9. Paul - Feb 25, 2010 at 11:08 PM

    guess someone should have watched DeJaun Blair from Pitt dominate him last year, and realized there would be an issue.

  10. NotAllBad - Feb 26, 2010 at 8:55 AM

    Hey, it is still not the worst number 2 pick ever. The Portland Trailblazers still (and probably forever) hold that distinction, passing on Michael Jordan to take Sam Bowie – 7 foot center from Kentucky. He never did anything useful, but more due to injury to a frail body than complete lack of ability. Still, passing on the greatest ever for what was at best a journeyman center is always going to land you the worst pick ever crown.

  11. billybill - Feb 26, 2010 at 10:25 AM

    This comment should be ignored but it’s so wrong I’ve got to say something.
    Calhoun usually doesn’t land the top recruits-well known fact.Yet he is one of the most successful college coaches ever-well known fact.So,how could this be?Duhhhh.
    Remember Reggie Lewis too.

  12. BC - Feb 26, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    Yinka Dare was as good if not better than Thabeet in college, and well… you saw how that worked out. Thabeet is an offensive stiff and he’s simply not strong enough to defend in the NBA. Heck, that Blair guy from Pitt shoved him all over the place any time they played – and there are 40-50 guys in the NBA that are bigger and better than Blair. Thabeet will be completely out of the league when his rookie contract is up, if not sooner.

  13. Anonymous - Feb 26, 2010 at 1:39 PM

    that’s correct

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