Hasheem Thabeet's Role with Oklahoma City Thunder Saved His Career

By Jared Porter
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Hasheem Thabeet was arguably one of the biggest NBA draft busts until he was acquired by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thabeet was the second overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2009 NBA draft, and there were high expectations for the 7-3 center. Unfortunately for Thabeet, he was not able to live up to those expectations, averaging just 2.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game in his career.

Thabeet was able to dominate in his college years with the University of Connecticut. He overwhelmed other players with his size and strength, making him one of the top players in Division I basketball. In his senior year with Connecticut, Thabeet averaged 13.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.2 blocks per game.

The transition from college to the NBA was difficult for Thabeet. His size was no longer that great of an advantage since he was playing against more athletic, stronger, faster and smarter athletes. His amount of contribution suffered, and his name was almost forgotten around the league.

But then the Thunder took a chance on Thabeet. In need of another big man to fill in for Kendrick Perkins, the Thunder acquired Thabeet from the Portland Trail Blazers at the beginning of this season. Instead of making him the premier big guy in the Thunder’s rotation, Thunder coach Scott Brooks had him come off of the bench. The move took weight off of Thabeet’s shoulders, knowing his responsibilities would go down drastically.

The situation that Thabeet was brought in with the Thunder fits him perfectly. He can rotate in with Perkins and get solid minutes. Thabeet is shooting his highest percentage in his career this season at 60 percent.

Even though he is not the All-Star player that some hoped he would be, Thabeet is filling an essential role with one of the top teams in the league. This season has changed the perception of Thabeet, and has somewhat revived his career at the same time. He will no longer be included in talks of the biggest bust in NBA draft history.

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