Hasheem Thabeet played 23 minutes for the Oklahoma City Thunder in their last game, a win at home over the Toronto Raptors two nights ago. Thabeet scored 10 points and pulled down five boards while going 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
Thabeet, once the No. 2 overall selection from the 2009 NBA Draft, has been one of the biggest busts in the NBA so far in his career. He was raw coming out of college with not much of an offensive game and his development in the NBA so far has been minimal.
OKC might be the perfect place for him though.
“I was with him in Houston. It’s like night and day when he was in Houston,” Kevin Martin told HOOPSWORLD about Thabeet. “He wants to be in every practice drill now. I can tell he gets to the gym earlier. He’s just excited.
“Whatever they did to him, it definitely worked in his favor,” he said, grinning, referring to the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise.
Thabeet is not a No. 2 overall pick in the eyes of the Thunder organization. He’s just someone that needs to come in and give them 8-12 minutes per night, bang bodies and be a force on defense.
Right now, Thabeet is the Thunder’s only option at the backup center position. OKC did not re-sign Nazr Mohammed who held the role on last year’s team and they just traded Cole Aldrich to Houston in the James Harden trade.
That now leaves Thabeet who hasn’t looked great in every game for the Thunder this season, but has shown signs or potential in each of them.
The NBA was supposed to be shifting to small ball with threes now playing the four and Kevin Durant being one of them. That really may just be the Miami Heat and LeBron James. In the West, it will still count to have size on the floor. Just look at the team that is supposed to be OKC’s biggest obstacle, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Dwight Howard is drawing more fouls and shooting more free throws than just about anyone in the league so far this season. That means Kendrick Perkins and his six fouls probably won’t be enough to guard Howard 40 minutes per game in a 7-game series.
So whether Thabeet is ready to become an important part of the Thunder rotation or not, the Thunder are going to use him as one and hope he does.
The main goal for Thabeet is not to get in the way of the offensive flow for the second unit. He’s not going to get the ball in the post, his touches will only come when his man doubles and he gets offensive boards.
Fouling out is not a concern for Thabeet on the defensive end which he has clearly shown so far this season. At 7-foot-3, he will always be a presence out there and he has always had a knack for blocking a few shots per game.
Thabeet was a joke in this league up until this season. The Thunder are giving him a chance to do something real with his career on this team. Thabeet seems up for the challenge.