Hasheem Thabeet is one of the biggest NBA Draft busts of all time. Heading into the 2009 NBA Draft, the UConn Center was considered one of the best centers in college. The 7’3″ 263lbs. behemoth has a dominant force in the paint. As a Huskie he improved in each of his three seasons, culminating in a 13.6 PPG, 10.8 RPG, & 4.2 BPG season in 2008-2009.
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NBA Draft Busts: Hasheem Thabeet
The Memphis Grizzlies selected Thabeet with the second overall pick in the 2009 draft because of that. It made him the first Tanzanian-born draftee. He honestly was not awful, but he still played poorly. He averaged 3.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game in 68 games in his rookie season. It all went downhill from there. He never averaged a block or more per game again in his career. He only got to three or more rebounds per game one more time. And only once did he get back about just two points per game. He was also never a good free-throw shooter and never attempted a single three-pointer in his career.
He ended up playing 5 total seasons and 224 total games in the NBA with four different teams. After his short time in Memphis, he had a short 7-game stint in Houston and played 15 games for the Trail Blazers, then played parts of two seasons for the Thunder. In the seven years since then, he’s spent time in various places. Additionally, he spent two G-League years with the Drive and Mad Ants and a year with the Yokohama B-Corsairs of the Japanese B-League. Then, since 2020, he has played in Taiwan with the Hsinchu JKO Lioneers of the P. League+.
Solid Draft Class
The 2009 NBA Draft class was not great, but not bad by any means. Blake Griffin, James Harden, Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday, and Jeff Teague were a part of that class, as was Rookie Of The Year Tyreke Evans. The draft also produced other solid players like Danny Green, Ricky Rubio, Patty Mills, Taj Gibson, James Johnson, Darren Collison, and others. So as you can see there were a lot of good picks after Thabeet.
The selection of Hasheem Thabeet by Memphis added him to a young Grizzlies team that also had a young Marc Gasol at center. That right there is why I think he became one of the biggest NBA draft busts ever. I think he could have thrived if he had gotten draft by a team that had more experience. The 2009-2010 Grizzlies only had four players out of the seventeen on the roster that had more than three years of experience. Only one of them played significant minutes. Steven Hunter hardly played at all and Jamaal Tinsley played in 38 games but didn’t even average 16 MPG, and the legendary Allen Iverson only played three games. Zach Randolph was the only veteran there that played. At least he was arguably the best player on the team that season.
If one of the other, more experienced teams or coaches at the top of the draft had selected him he could have fared a lot better. The Los Angeles Clippers had the top pick and had guys like Marcus Camby and Baron Davis. The New York Knicks had the #8 pick and had Al Harrington, Larry Hughes, Tracy McGrady, and head coach Mike D’Antoni. The Milwaukee Bucks had the 10th pick and had Kurt Thomas and current Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse. The Phoenix Suns were at the end of the lottery had a plethora of veterans including Hall of Famer and current Nets head coach Steve Nash and were coached by Alvin Gentry. Other veteran coaches at the top of the draft were the Warriors’ Don Nelson at seven, Larry Brown of the Bobcats at twelve, and the late Paul Westphal of the Kings at four.
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