Thursday, January 1, 2009

In the Spotlight: Hasheem Thabeet

Hasheem Thabeet
Position: Center
Ht: 7-3, Wt: 263
Hometown: Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
College: UConn
Class: Junior
Age: 02/16/87


Strengths
  • Incredible size and presence on the court – A rare package of coordination and athleticism for a 7’3 frame.
  • Tremendous shot blocker… Does a great job rotating off his man, protecting the basket and contesting shots.
  • Has shown unbelievable improvement in all facets of his game since entering college.
  • Offensive skills are evolving… Has started to demonstrate a jump hook which he uses effectively against shorter defenders.
  • Good form at the free throw line
  • Sufficient hands
  • Explosive leaper – quick off his feet

Weaknesses
  • Still very raw / unpolished – learning the game… He’s only been playing basketball for the past few years
  • Needs to add some low post moves to his offensive arsenal… He’s developing a jump hook, but right now, he gets his baskets through dunks thanks to guard penetration and offensive rebound putbacks.
  • Must improve his ability to establish position on the block – Thabeet needs to work on sealing his defender on his back and holding position…creating easier entry pass opportunities.
  • His feet drag while running up court.
  • Needs to improve his upper body strength which will help him fend off contact when attacking the basket… He must take the ball up stronger.
  • Has to improve passing out of the post, especially when he sees double teams.
  • Struggles moving his feet defensively and guarding on the perimeter… Thabeet is exploited when guarding players that play facing the basket, as he lacks the lateral mobility to keep his man in front of him. It’s also an issue when defending the pick and roll.
  • Defensively, Thabeet has a tendency to rely too much on his incredible athleticism… He has to fight defensively to prevent the man he’s guarding from establishing low position.

Overall

It’s very rare to find a player with Hasheem Thabeet’s physical stature and athleticism. He’s improved his skill set immensely, both offensively and defensively, since entering UConn 3 years ago and he has a lot of growth left in his game.

Defensively, while Thabeet is a game changer because of his ability to contest everything around the hoop, I have serious concerns over his on the ball defense.  As good as he is coming over from the weakside (timing and elevation are outstanding), he needs to get much stronger and build up his leg strength to defend bigger 5's at the next level.  

Offensively, his skills are way behind.  He needs to improve his footwork and add moves to his offensive arsenal. It’s a work in progress, as he’s started to develop a jump hook around the basket and become more adept at finishing with his left hand. At this point, Thabeet is able to get his buckets by finishing off of penetration, and put backs on offense rebounds.

Thabeet still relies heavily on his athleticism, which for his size is incredible, but there are things that work in college that wont work in the NBA. For example, allowing the player he’s guarding to establish low position, because he’s confident that he’ll block their shot. Or not sealing his man and boxing out, knowing that he’ll grab the rebound because of his length and vertical leap. These are habits that will need to be broken.

Overall, Thabeet is a top 10 pick, on potential, but I would really focus on individual workouts, before pulling the trigger and being convinced of Thabeets impact at the pro level.  The talent is definitely there.   As his skills continue to evolve, Thabeet can become a player that can control the paint defensively and be an option on the offensive end (not the focal point) at the next level.

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