What if: Grizzlies pass on Hasheem Thabeet
If the Grizzlies never drafted Hasheem Thabeet, where would they be today?
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: The outlook for the Grizzlies and Thunder could be nearly reversed.
In 2009, the Memphis Grizzlies were in the process of building a roster around the likes of Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, and Marc Gasol. They had a prime opportunity to build upon this young lineup with the number two pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.
The Grizzlies choked. They drafted 7 foot 3 center Hasheem Thabeet. In his career, he's about to enter his fifth season, Thabeet has scored a total of 456 points, good for an average of 2.3 points per game over 201 games played in his injury riddled career.
What if the Grizzlies had not drafted one of the biggest busts in NBA history? What if they would've instead drafted the best available player rather than drafting based on need.
The Grizzlies could have taken James Harden, Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio, or even Stephen Curry. Because they already had a young point guard loaded with potential, it is easy to rule out Rubio and Curry.
Best case scenario, the Grizzlies draft James Harden, trade O.J. Mayo for a decent power forward and move forward with a lineup consisting of Conley, Harden, Gay, power forward recieved in trade for Mayo, and Gasol.
This team, given time to grow and develop together would probably be considered an NBA title contender. Harden has become a top 5 NBA player and Gasol is the second best center in the league, right behind Dwight Howard, Harden's current teammate with the Rockets. This lineup would be pretty dynamic and although their defense would not be what it is today, they would be able to put points on the board at a much higher rate than the 2013-14 Memphis Grizzlies.
This draft pick would have had a drastic effect on the outlook for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder took Harden with the third pick in the 2009 draft, but had they not been able to draft Harden, it is likely that they would've drafted Thabeet. This draft pick would have set the Thunder back a few years, forcing them to build around a lineup of Westbrook, Durant, Ibaka, and Thabeet rather than Harden.
This Thunder team is, at best, a six or seven seed in the 2012 playoffs, when they lost in five games to the Miami Heat in the NBA Championship. This being the case, it is likely that Kevin Durant would be looked upon similarly to the way Jordan was viewed as a youngster: a gifted scorer who wins scoring titles but will never win NBA Championships. Sounds like Carmelo Anthony.
Ultimately, the Grizzlies would most likely be in a better position today if they had not drafted Hasheem Thabeet and rather drafted Harden or Curry or Evans. The Thunder on the otherhand, would be trying to work their way up, in hopes of still building around Durant and Russell Westbrook to become a championship contender.
Photo Credit: Hasheem Thabeet Instagram