Category Archives: Memphis Grizzlies

Is Hasheem Thabeet the biggest bust ever?

The NBA draft is a tricky business. Should GM’s go for need, or the best player available? Some top-10 picks never live up to their potential, while you can find an absolute gem in the second round (look at Manu Ginobli, Gilbert Arenas, Michael Redd and Carlos Boozer). When Memphis drafted Hasheem Thabeet from Conneticut with the 2nd pick in the 2009 draft, many experts had mixed views about his potential. At 7 foot 3′, Thabeet is an excellent shot blocker and rebounder but had a very limited offensive game. The Grizzlies first option was Ricky Rubio, but the Spanish prodigy refused to even entertain the idea of playing for Memphis. Thabeet has barely featured for the Grizzlies this season, averaging 2.7 points and 3.1 rebounds in 10 minutes a game. He may have played more than #1 pick Blake Griffin, but Thabeet is stuck behind Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol in the froncourt and competing with fellow 7-footers Hamed Haddadi and Steven Hunter for spare minutes. Thabeet is also being shown up by rookies drafted after him: the likes of Tyreke Evans, Jonny Flynn and Brandon Jennings are getting plenty of playing time and putting up points in the league – Jennings lit up Golden State for 55 points in November; Thabeet will be lucky to score 55 points this season.

I’m going to compare Thabeet with previous draft “busts” and the players that were picked after them, as in this current draft class, Tyreke Evans in particular looks like he will be an All-Star in a few years. Some of these are obvious, but they have been the biggest busts in the history of the NBA.

Kwame Brown:

(1st pick, 2001, Washington Wizards. Picked after: Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson, Gilbert Arenas)

The first high schooler to be selected first, Brown came with high hopes as he was picked by Michael Jordan when he was at the Wizards. Kwame only averaged 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in his rookie year (notice the similarities with Thabeet), and a lack of maturity hindered his progress. Failed stints at the Lakers and Grizzlies followed, and now Kwame is at the Detroit Pistons. Drawing criticsm for lackluster performances and a lack of focus during games, Brown has to be one of the biggest draft busts ever. He has only averaged 7 points and 5 rebounds in his nine year career.

Darko Milicic

(2nd pick, 2003. Detroit Pistons. Picked after: Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh)

Considered such a bust because of the players picked after him. While Melo, Wade and Bosh are superstars and all on the gold-winning “Redeem Team” in 2008, Milicic is now glued to the end of the Knicks’ bench. A mega-skilled big man with massive potential, Darko was picked by the Pistons with the second pick in 2003 but never received significant playing time in Detroit. Stops in Memphis and Orlando failed to impress critics, and even though he is still only 24, I don’t think Darko will ever get it and live up to the hype. He only has career averages of 5.5 points and 4 rebounds per game.

Michael Olowokandi

(1st pick, 1998. LA Clippers. Picked after: Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki)

The London native never developed into the dominant center people expected him to be. While draft colleagues like Dirk, Pierce, Carter, Rashard Lewis and Antawn Jamison are still performing well in the league, Olowokandi only lasted 5 years with the Clippers before injuries curtailed his career. He has career averages of 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds.

Sam Bowie

(2nd pick, 1984. Portland TrailBlazers. Picked after: Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, John Stockton)

Sports Illustrated and ESPN named him the biggest bust in history. Bowie was a bust simply because he was chosen over three Hall of Famers, and arguably the greatest basketball player ever (Michael Jordan). When the player picked a spot below you won 6 championships, 5 MVP awards, 14 All-Star appearances and scores 32,000 points in the NBA, it’s going to make any player look bad. And when the pick before you was Hakeem Olajuwon, it doesn’t improve the circumstances. Bowie was a 7 foot 1’ center and did well in his rookie season, but injuries dogged his career and he retired from basketball in 1995. Bowie has career averages of 10.9 points and 7.5 rebounds. Does anyone notice the similarities with the 2007 draft – the Blazers select a center with the #1 pick that can’t stay on the court because of injury, and the player taken below is well on his way to becoming a superstar and making his first All-Star appearance. Is Kevin Durant going to be the Jordan to Greg Oden’s Bowie? You never know we might be seeing Oden’s name on this list in 10 years time.

Do you think that Thabeet will be joining Bowie, Brown, Milicic and Olowokandi as the biggest busts in draft history?

 

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Breaking News: Allen Iverson is retiring

Originally, I was going to be writing a piece about the Atlanta Hawks, and how they were surprising everyone by sitting atop of the Eastern Conference. Then it happened. Allen Iverson has announced that he is retiring from the NBA after 13 seasons. I have mentioned A.I in a number of previous posts, and I am a big fan of the 6′ guard, all the way back to his days in Philadelphia. I just think it’s a shame it had to end this way, with Iverson essentially ostracised from the league, unable to find a club after walking out on Memphis over a week ago.
Iverson has released this statement today:
TO ALL OF MY FANS:
I would like to announce my plans to retire from the National Basketball Association. I always thought that when I left the game, it would be because I couldn’t help my team the way that I was accustomed to. However, that is not the case.
I still have tremendous love for the game, the desire to play, and a whole lot left in my tank. I feel strongly that I can still compete at the highest level.
Stepping away from the game will allow me to spend quality time with my wife and kids. This is a reward that far exceeds anything that I’ve ever achieved on the basketball court. I have prayed for this day and I see it as my greatest gift.
I want to thank the people of Reebok International Ltd., for always allowing me to be me and for supporting me my whole career through all the ups and downs. I have enjoyed 13 wonderful seasons in the NBA, and I am grateful.
I want to first acknowledge my fans everywhere, who have been with me throughout my entire career. Without you, there would be no me. You should all know that I appreciate your support from the bottom of my heart. Thank you!
To Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Charles Barkley and Larry Bird, you guys gave me the vision to play the game that will be forever in my heart.
To my Mom, who encouraged and inspired me to play every day, and to all of my family and friends who stood by me from the beginning. Thank you!
To my high school coach, Michael Bailey, Coach John Thompson at Georgetown University, Coach Larry Brown and to all of my other coaches, teammates, administrators, owners and staff who’ve been a part of my career, Thank you as well!
I’d like to give a special thanks to the people of Memphis. I never played a home game for your beloved Grizzlies, but I want you to know how much I appreciate the opportunity given me by a great owner in Michael Heisley, and the support of the city. I wish the Memphis Grizzlies’ organization all of the success that the game has to offer.
And finally, to the city of Philadelphia: I have wonderful memories of my days in a Sixers’ uniform. To Philly fans, thank you. Your voice will always be music to my ears.
God Bless all of you,
ALLEN IVERSON
After clearing waivers with Memphis last week, Iverson was rumoured to be signing with the New York Knicks. However, even with a dismal showing so far this season, the Knicks were reluctant to sign A.I, even at the veteran’s minumum. Since his disastrous spell in Detroit last season, irreprebable damage has been done to Iverson’s reputation: which was underlined by a lack of interest in Iverson this summer. And then add the mess that was Iverson’s short-lived stint in Memphis: 3 games, 3 losses, constant moaning about coming off the bench, and then Iverson leaving the team for “personal reasons” and never returning.
That’s the reason why teams don’t want A.I. His attitude. It’s not about his talent, he still has what it takes to make a difference for a team. It’s a complete unwillingness to come off the bench. That is why contending teams like the Lakers, Cavs and the Magic want nothing to do with the former MVP and four-time scoring champ – who could play a part coming off the bench and win a ring. Even teams like the Nets and the Knicks, who could undoubtedly use some of Iverson’s scoring talent, would not take the risk after the Memphis debacle. Even Philadelphia, where Iverson had the best years of his career and a team that has no point guard and is struggling for results, don’t want him back.
Whatever you may think of Iverson, this is a sad end to a glittering career. A sure-fire Hall of Famer and perhaps the best little man in the league, arguably the toughest and best pound-for pound player ever deserves better. Maybe he will do a Michael Jordan and return this or next season, and accept a smaller role on a contending team so that he can end his career the right way. Whatever happens, this is a sad day for basketball…
UPDATE: Allen Iverson is returning to Philadelphia. A.I has signed a one year, non-guaranteed deal with the 76ers for the veteran’s minimum. The Sixers have signed their former franchise player as cover for the injured Lou Williams, who is out for up to 8 weeks with a broken jaw.