Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why Send Thabeet to the D-League? So we don't have a blog called FreeHasheem

(Photo from Yahoo)
Here's an update about Hasheem in the D-League by Marc J. Spears. From the article:

People in the NBA are “definitely looking at it negatively,” Thabeet said. “ ‘He’s the No. 2 pick. He’s not supposed to be there. I can’t believe that guy is over there and he’s the second pick.’ But you got to go and work your way up there. I’m working my way up here, working on my confidence. “When the time comes, I’ll be able to answer the call.”

Take that however you want it, but I believe it. He's not getting playing time in Memphis and the Grizzlies are fighting for a playoff spot, so putting Hasheem in game action in the NBA to learn on the fly isn't quite an option at this point in the season.

I'll repeat that.

Putting Hasheem in game action in the NBA to learn on the fly isn't quite an option... at this point in the season.

People seem to think this automatically means that Hasheem Thabeet is a BUST and that the Memphis Grizzlies are dummies who should have picked Tyreke Evans or James Harden or ANYONE ELSE not named Blake Griffin. But for reasons already stated, hey it's just not happening AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON. I keep saying that. Because people think that going to the D-League means you are in the D-League forever. False. Your team can call you up whenever they want you back, which for the Grizzlies is if they fall out of contention for the playoffs!

Let's look at some other players who after being drafted, were assigned to the D-League:

Jose Barea, January 17, 2007 (Wiki) - After appearing in only 12 games getting less than 5 minutes, the Dallas Mavericks sent their undrafted rookie to the D-League, called him back two weeks later. He still didn't get a lot of playing time, but he did get more, appearing in 21 games for the second half of the season. He now averages 20 minutes a game for a playoff bound Mavericks team. Again, undrafted. D-League success.

Aaron Brooks, December 6, 2007 ( - After appearing in 2 games, getting 3 minutes in one and 30 seconds in the other, the Houston Rockets sent their 1st round 26th draft pick to the D-League, called him back a week later, and proceeded to play in every game for the next two and a half months. He had a bell curve going from 5 minutes to 10 to 20 at the top in the middle of January, and then back to around 5 minutes at the start of March. He now averages 36 minutes and 20 points as a starting PG for the Rockets. D-League success.

Jordan Farmar, March 31st, 2007 ( - After getting sporadic play behind... Smush Parker, the Lakers sent Farmar to the D-League to get some game action. After his first D-League game, the Lakers called him back to the team, that day to play against the Kings. His second season, he played in all 82 games and averaged 9 points and 3 assists playing behind Derek Fisher. Now he's struggling on the bench not getting the bulk of back up PG minutes with Shannon Brown but he's still averaging 18 minutes. He also won a championship! I'd call this a D-League success. He's probably going to be the next starting PG for the Lakers.

Marcin Gortat, November 20, 2007 ( - The 2nd round draft pick hadn't played in a single game. The Magic sent him to the D-League and didn't call him back until March. He still hardly played. The next season, he doubled his minutes to 12 per and was made famous in the playoffs and Finals against the Lakers. So much so that Dallas offered him the mid level exception to play significant minutes for the Mavericks who needed a big man behind (or even to start in place of) Erick Dampier! The Magic matched which was so idiotic (but I won't go into that again, see my previous posts: Orlando Offseason, Gortat Update). He can play, it's just the Magic only play him 12 minutes. I label this a D-League success.

I could delve into more draftees/rookies being sent from their team to the D-League and getting better (Brandon Bass, Ramon Sessions, Martell Webster). I could delve into D-League success stories where players started out in the D-League and got signed to NBA teams (Rafer ALston, Chris Andersen, Matt Barnes, Jamario Moon, Mikki Moore, Von Wafer). But my main point is that the D in D-League stand for development, not dog house, not dunce, not dumbass draft choice, but development. Of course we'd like to see Memphis play Thabeet but they have a chance at making the playoffs and he's not there yet. Sending him to the D-League gets him solid game action and playing time. He will NOT be another infamous #2 draft pick, such as Darko Milicic.

My tangent - Darko Milicic

(Photo from NY Times)
Why didn't Detroit send Darko to the D-League? Granted there were no D-League teams near Michigan at the time (Wiki), he seriously could have used the playing time. His rookie season he averaged 1.4/1.3/.2, 4:40 minutes in 34 games for the playoff bound (eventual champions) Detroit Pistons. Doesn't this sound familiar? Why would Larry Brown give him decent minutes to a young PF/C for a team trying to get into the playoffs and win a championship? Why would Marc Lavaroni Lionel Hollins give decent minutes to young C Thabeet, for a team trying to make the playoffs. Compare the numbers: Thabeet this season - 2.5/2.9/.1, 10 minutes in 50 games. Better than what Darko was putting up.

The D-League would have kept Darko in game shape and he would have gained valuable in game experience, which is exactly what Hasheem will get. Hasheem shouldn't be ashamed of going to the D-League. He should be thanking the Grizzlies for a chance at some real playing time. If he didn't go to the D-League, he'd still be laughing stock of sports writers and in 3 years, he'd be the next Darko. There is no blog called FreeHasheem and if Hasheem takes the D-League seriously, which it sounds like he is, there won't be need for one. He said “When the time comes, I’ll be able to answer the call." I believe him.

Read Between the Baselines, come on now.


KneeJerkNBA said...

I don't think he'll learn anything in the D League other than how to play against other big men who aren't good enough for the NBA.

Memphis is placing too high a priority on making this year's playoffs. They should be playing Thabeet 15-20 minutes a night right now even if he sucks so that he'll be ready to ball against real players next year. You've got to throw these bigs out there and let them sink or swim. I mean, cmon- Hamed Haddadi?!? Dude's terrible.

Anonymous said...

Brings back memories of someone called Michael Olowakandi. What am I trying to say? Thabeet is a bust. As a grizzlies fan i hope I'm wrong.

ReadBetweenTheBaselines said...

KneeJerk - I agree, but the fact that Memphis has chosen NOT to play him, he's better off in the D-League than riding the bench.

Anonymous - I really really really honestly think he's not going to be a bust.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your assessment. The guy has one natural gift that cant be taught, TALL. But the rest can be developed with enough time and effort. But that wont happen with him sitting on the bench and getting limited game time. Hopefully his time in the D-League will motivate him and build his skill set to where he is NBA ready come next season.

I have to make one correction tho. The coach for the grizz is not 'Lavaroni', as you state in your comments, or even Ivaroni. Dude has been gone for over a year now. Lionel Hollins is the current coach.

ReadBetweenTheBaselines said...

Anonymous, thanks for the correction, it has been corrected! Apologies all around.

KneeJerkNBA said...

Hamed Haddadi, he likes to party, he don't cause trouble, he don't bother nobody

Double H is now shooting 31% from the floor this season, btw. You're telling me Thabeet couldn't do better than that?

ReadBetweenTheBaselines said...

Yeah but he's only playing 6 minutes a game in 20 games shooting like, 1/3 not 3/10. He's not the first option on offense, just the bench player for Gasol and Randolph. Plus, I'm not really saying what Memphis SHOULD do, I'm saying the DLeague is better than bench riding after the fact that Grizzlies are committed to not giving him big minutes.