Position: Center Projected NBA: Center
Age: 21 (02/16/1987)
Physicals: 7'3", 260 lbs.
College: Connecticut (Junior)
I watched a few Connecticut games last year, and came away impressed with Thabeet's potential. At the time, he seemed raw, but he has an impressive physical tool set. He played pretty good defense, and blocked a ton of shots. I came away thinking that if he could develop just one good go-to Offensive move, he could be in serious consideration for the #1 pick. He also needed to become a better rebounder. Not that he was a terrible rebounder as a Sophomore, but he relied too much on his atleticism and 7'3" body, instead of positioning and blocking out.
Well, I watched a couple of Connecticut games this year (against Notre Dame and DePaul) - and came away thinking that Thabeet can certainly block shots, but has not improved the other areas of his game.
The numbers suggest that he's a better rebounder (7.9 rpg last year to 10.1 rpg this year), but he still does not block out, and relies on his height for most of his rebounds. Against Notre Dame, he came away with 9 rebounds; but 6 of those were uncontested, and the other 3 were because he was taller than everyone else. Unlike Blake Griffin (or even Luke Harangody of Notre Dame), Thabeet does not seem to work very hard on the glass. Smaller, stronger players can move him out of rebounding position.
I believe he could be a much better rebounder if he strengthens his legs, plays better position, and blocks out regularly. The fact that he has not improved his weak areas from last year troubles me.
As for the Offensive abilities; I did see ONE nice jump hook. In the DePaul game, he had a strong Offensive rebound, with an awkward put back - but it went.
A lot of the time he reminded me of Andray Blatche around the basket - preferring to lay the ball off the glass, rather than dunk. In the 2 games I watched, he only dunked twice, and one of those was in transition.
He does run the floor well, both Offensively, and getting back on Defense. Unlike some other potential Lottery prospects (Griffin, Monroe, etc), Thabeet does not take up space in the middle. He's obviously tall, and long.... but that's it... He's vertical.
On many occasions in the Notre Dame game, the stronger Harangody (6'7") used leverage to body him away from the basket; and on one occasion actually blocked a weak Thabeet lay up attempt. And when Harangody got physical, Thabeet seemed to disappear from the game, his size nullified.
I really have to question his hand and arm strength. I counted at least 5 times in the ND game that Thabeet caught the ball deep in the lane, but was stripped (or just plain lost the ball) on his way up. Some of those did not result in turn overs because they went out of bounds off the opponenet; but they should have been dunks for Connecticut. It happened a couple of times in the DePaul game as well. He also had some trouble just catching the ball on passes into the post, so you have to question his hands.
Harangody continually tried using his strength to back Thabeet down in the paint, then shoot a fade away or a hook over him. Thabeet did get a block on one, but for the most part, Harangody won the battles down low.
On the Defensive side, Thabeet had trouble hedging on the pick-and-roll. Mostly refusing to show on the Guard, thus allowing the DePaul Guards to do whatever they wanted Offensively. When he does not block a shot, his one-on-one defense is poor. He gives ground too easily in the post; although his length certainly makes up for some faults.
He seems to be a pretty good help defender in the lane; but ask him to step out to the perimeter, and he looks lost. His court awareness is not very good. Several times he was picked, and was unable to recover before the opponents scored layups or dunks.
In the Notre Dame game, Thabeet finished with 9 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks, 2 assists and 3 turn overs
Against DePaul, he had 11 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks, 0 assists and no turn overs
I guess I was spoiled by watching Blake Griffin and then Luke Harangody. Those two guys, and especially Griffin, seem to be always giving 100%. Playing hard and giving effort. With Griffin, it was EASY to see he was the best player on the floor.
If he is to be considered a Lottery Pick, Thabeet should have been the best player on the court - but he wasn't.
He should look like he was giving effort - but he didn't.
It was only two games, but Thabeet did not impress.