Thabeet’s teammates have tried to keep him pumped up.
Zach Randolph was the first person to greet Thabeet when the final horn sounded on the Grizzlies’ win over the Thunder. Randolph stopped Thabeet on the court. The veteran forward pounded his hand into Thabeet’s chest as he spoke.
“I told him ‘That’s what you’re here for. That’s what you’re going to get paid to do,’ ” Randolph said. “He just has to control that paint. He doesn’t have to score the basketball. He just has to do what he did the last game. It’s the best I’ve ever seen him play.”
And it was.
I make it a point once per Grizzlies game to tweet about something Thabeet does poorly, a missed rotation, a turnover, a missed layup, and then immediately follow it with “in unrelated news,” then list the last awesome thing or line Tyreke Evans put up.
Passing on Evans sent me screaming in my living room. It was something I knew was happening, and yet couldn’t stop it. I was sure, absolutely sure, that Evans was going to be the best pick of the draft.Â They needed a legit point guard, even if Conley developed well, you can’t pass up a talent like Evans. They did. And it crushed me, after watching Thabeet throughout the year look completely one-dimensional. People spoke of his ceiling. “Dikembe Mutumbo” they said. “Really?” I asked, “That’s who they’re spending the #2 pick on? A guy who might end up maybe as good as Mutumbo?”
But we’re stuck with him.
And I cannot deny that he was a huge difference maker in the game against Oklahoma City, one I had little hope for a win in. Making plays at the rim is something it turns out this team needs in a huge way defensively. From that angle, I can more easily swallow Heisley’s thinking. This team isÂ a dynamo (not a juggernaut) offensively, capable of bruising teams with speed and muscle for long stretches, but unable to shut down teams when they take their defender off the dribble. Thabeet provides that.
I’d still rather have Evans in a million ways, but Pogo Stick is proving the value of being a tall guy with long arms.