Reid Forgrave of CBS Sports shares the story of the once-touted pivot who hasn’t dressed for an NBA game since 2014. Drafted surprisingly high, Thabeet played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, and Oklahoma City Thunder before exiting the league quietly. Now almost 32, he hopes the phone might ring once again.
He says he’s in the best shape of his life. He’s working out three times a day, from skills work on the court to lifting in the weight room to running and plyometrics. He’s running seven-minute miles. He’s never been injury-prone. His body is more cut up now than it was when he was in college. He can jump and reach the top of the backboard. He’s extended his range to the 3-point line; his agent, Jerry Dianis, sent me a video where he knocked down four out of five 3-pointers, which doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to turn into Dirk Nowitzki but is certainly much more than you’d expect from Hasheem Thabeet. He’s recently worked out for three Eastern Conference contenders -- the Philadelphia 76ers, the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks -- and has more workouts coming up. One NBA executive said he was “pleasantly surprised about Hasheem’s attitude and outlook.”
Forgrave details Thabeet’s early struggles, playing in “a place he didn’t want to go”. The center failed to develop, panned for his effort, caught in the NBA transition away from big men and towards guards.
Forgrave quotes NBA Trainer Keith Williams suggesting both attitude and potential role may have resolved:
“He’s so much more mature,” Williams said. “He understands how things work, what it takes in order to get him back in the NBA and help one of these teams win some games. I think he could be similar to a Clint Capela.
For all the Thabeet Fanatics out there, the story describes much more than anyone heard about him when he was playing in the NBA.
Thabeet holds career averages of 2.2 points and 2.7 rebounds in 10.5 minutes per game in 224 NBA appearances. He played for the Trail Blazers in 2011-12, playing in 15 games, averaging 7.7 minutes, 1.9 points, and 2.3 rebounds.