Darnell Mayberry on Hasheem Thabeet: “Adding Thabeet also helps the Thunder preserve precious salary cap space, most of which will go toward paying its young players. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook already are locked into maximum-allowable contracts. Harden, Serge Ibaka and Eric Maynor are all now eligible for extensions to their rookie deals. What the Thunder is doing in bringing in Thabeet, 25, is taking a flyer on a one-time promising prospect without paying him much and hoping he can develop into the player he once was capable of being. If he does, the Thunder gets a steal. If not, the team will not have lost anything.”
An example from 2009 of how maybe Thabeet wasn’t getting the best coaching, from Ben Golliver of Blazersedge: “Thabeet’s performance was all the more impressive in light of his pregame warm-up routine which had courtside observers gawking at how misguided the drills he was participating in were. Thabeet was shooting 15 footers, 18 footers, turnaround 18 footers, 15 footers off the pick and roll, jab step 15 footers, 18 footers off the glass. It was a wonder he wasn’t shooting three pointers. Please remember he’s 7’3″. The only time he practiced any shots at the rim came after he was instructed to pump-fake from the top of the free throw circle and dribble twice down the key before making a layup. You think I’m exaggerating; I’m not. The average height of the Grizzlies assistant coaching staff (which includes Damon Stoudamire, Henry Bibby and Johnny Davis) might have something to do with this. Who knows. I wanted to intervene. Had it been Greg Oden, I probably wouldn’t have been able to resist.”
Also, check this quote from Lionel Hollins from 2009: “We’re teaching him how to play the game of basketball like you would a 7th or 8th grader.”
HoopsHype: “If the Thunder coaching staff can make a legit NBA center out of Hasheem Thabeet, they reach legend status to me.”
Darnell Mayberry with a great point about Thabeet: “But the first thing Thabeet could and should do to show that this time, this team, will be different than his previous three seasons is take his tall tail down to Orlando and join his new teammates for summer league. Rising fourth-year players generally don’t participate in summer league. But if anyone needs to swallow their pride it’s Thabeet. If I’m Thabeet, I’m volunteering to go and compete next week instead of having the coaching staff or front office “encourage” me to. It’s an easy way to make a good first impression and prove that the past is in the past. Prove that now he’s willing to work hard and do what it takes to blossom into the player many believed he had the potential to become.”
John Reid of NOLA.com on the Hornets being the next Thunder: “The Hornets will need everything to click as rapidly as it did for the Oklahoma City Thunder, which drafted Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka in 2008 draft and they emerged quickly playing alongside Kevin Durant. Anthony Davis has the potential to develop into a franchise-changing player like Durant and guard Austin Rivers, who the Hornets selected with the No. 10 overall pick in last week’s draft, has the potential to excel like Westbrook. New Orleans will need more two more exceptional drafts to build around young talent. Also, they need players that are committed to playing in New Orleans and not elsewhere. There has to be patience to allow Coach Monty Williams to develop the young talent and General Manager Dell Demps must find the right pieces that must also include some veterans. The building blocks are already in place, but it also will take some luck to make it to the finals in five years as the Thunder achieved this season.”
Steve Nash is now with the Lakers. The Western Conference just got a little tougher.