“I truthfully don’t listen to that. The team drafted me there. They saw what I have and that’s why they drafted me. Again, I’m out here getting better for myself and my team and that’s it,” – Hasheem Thabeet on hearing negative talk of him being the second overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft and getting sent down to play in the D-League.
Some would say that number should have read 11 or more, but Hasheem Thabeet was only credited for one block in his D-League debut Friday night for the Dakota Wizards against the Erie BayHawks at Tullio Arena in Erie. The Wizards won, 108-103.
Personally, I thought he got two, but he finished the game with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting, two rebounds, two turnovers and four fouls in 17 minutes and 51 seconds of play.
The Memphis Grizzlies sent Thabeet down to the Wizards on Thursday and he played his first of scheduled six games with Dakota.
The second overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft out of Connecticut is scheduled to return to Memphis on March 8, Dakota coach Rory White said. The Grizzlies and Washington Wizards are Dakota’s NBA affiliates. An NBA team can send down first or second-year players up to three times a season.
Playing just 17 minutes and 51 seconds, Thabeet also had his shot blocked from behind by Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Danny Green, who at 6-foot-6 is much shorter than the 7-3 center.
Green was returning the favor as Thabeet blocked his shot within 25 seconds of him entering the game for the first time in the first quarter. An NBA affiliate for Erie, The Cavalier sent Green down to play for the BayHawks.
A rookie out of North Carolina, Green finished with a game-high 36 points Friday.
After the game, I interviewed Thabeet, who arrived in Erie hours before the 7 p.m. game.
On about how the game went and him being sent down: “I just came to get better. I’m taking this as a positive situation for me. Coach (Lionel) Hollins decided to put me down here. He’s always got the best interest in my career. He always tells me all I got to do is come out here and work hard. I’m coming down here to work hard, get better and be back soon.”
On how long he’ll be with Dakota: “They told me a couple of games.”
On how he played: “Just came out here and worked on what I’ve been working on the whole season the whole time that I was not playing. It was the first game. We’ll have a day off and work on our stuff (the Grizzlies and Wizards run similar offensive and defensive sets). Every time I go out there now, I try to do the stuff I’ve been working on. You can see (Friday night) I didn’t do much because everybody in game situations, everybody wants to shoot the ball. Again, I’ happy with this situation and I’m going to make the best of it.”
On being surrounded by fans on the court after the game (White had to get him off the court): “Ha. Ha. You can’t stop that, but I came out here to get better and work on my game.”
On what he was asked to work on: “Just be active the whole game. They say sometimes I play active and sometimes I slow down. I just got to out there and play the whole game. Again, every game I go out there, I’m trying to accomplish that. Go in there and be a force, have an impact in the game and play the whole game, not just a couple of plays.”
On hearing negative talk about him being sent down to play in the D-League when he was the second overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. He’s the highest drafted NBA player to play in the D-League: “I truthfully don’t listen to that. The team drafted me there. They saw what I have and that’s why they drafted me. Again, I’m out here getting better for myself and my team and that’s it.”