Friday, February 18, 2011

DeJuan Blair vs Hasheem Thabeet

If you're looking for the Best Pittsburgh Sports Blog Tournament, please scroll down to the post below.

Growing up in Pittsburgh as a sports fan, we had the Pirates, Penguins, Steelers, and Panthers, and for brief periods of time, the USFL’s Maulers, arena football’s Gladiators, indoor soccer’s Spirit and the Pittsburgh Bulls indoor lacrosse team (featuring #66 Butch Marino). As you can tell, none of these are NBA teams. Without a local team in the pre-internet (how did we live without internet casinos?) and pre-SportsCenter era (there probably was SportsCenter but I don’t remember watching it until later), my friends and I never followed the NBA and naturally were not big NBA fans. Sure we watched the Lakers and Celtics championships, but otherwise, I don’t even remember the NBA being on television.

These days, I check the box scores of nearly every NBA game played by the San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Hornets to see how former Pitt players DeJuan Blair, Sam Young and Aaron Gray are doing. All three are currently starting on their respective teams, though DeJuan Blair is the player of this group who really stands out. Although Blair benefits from playing on team with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, Bill Simmons included him at #50 in his NBA trade value column since he puts up double-doubles regularly. Anyone who watched him at Pitt knew what a great player he was, though there was a question about how his size (6’7”) would translate in the NBA. Of course, some doubts may have been alleviated from his match-up with 7’3” Hasheem Thabeet of Connecticut. Let’s go back to February 16, 2009, shall we.

While the videos illustrate that Blair dominated Thabeet in this game, the box score shows it even more.

Blair: 22 points; 23 rebounds; 2 assists and 1 block.
Thabeet: 5 points; 4 rebounds; 2 steals and 2 blocks (fouled out).

So here's what I don't understand about the NBA. Although Blair dominated Thabeet, the UConn center was drafted 2nd overall and earned a very nice payday. Meanwhile, Blair wasn't drafted until the 2nd round at 37th overall. I understand that you can't look at the one aforementioned game in a vacuum, but it turned out to be accurate.

Not including last night’s game against the Chicago Bulls, Blair is averaging 8.6 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game in only 22+ minutes per game. Meanwhile, Thabeet plays only about 8 minutes per game and averages 1.1 points and 1.6 rebounds. If you’re 7’3” how don’t you get at least 2 rebounds a game just by standing under the basket? Thabeet was listed as a DNP (did not play): Coach's Decision in Memphis' last two games. Therefore, Thabeet had the same impact on these games as if he was sitting home playing video poker online.

This post isn't to discredit Thabeet. Enough people in hindsight criticize Thabeet and Memphis for drafting him 2nd overall. It seems to me that NBA teams are scared to pass on what they feel might be a dominant center since this is rare to find. This post is just to point out that I don't understand how so many teams passed on DeJuan Blair, and to show appreciation for how well he is doing in the NBA.

Plus, I like seeing the video of Blair slamming Thabeet again!


Unknown said...

Allow me to try to answer this question. Like you, I am a native Pittsburgher who never followed the NBA or basketball much. Now I live in Memphis, and have at least a passing interest in seeing the Grizzlies do well.

Why did the Grizzlies draft Thabeet? I wish someone had an answer for me, too. The Grizzlies passed on Blair (and some other huge names, including, I think, Stephan Curry) because the GM stubbornly stuck to the idea that the Grizz were flush in the area of guards and needed a big man to round out the team. Thabeet joined up, was a huge flop, and soon became the highest drafted player ever to be sent to the D-league.

That's right--a player who was the number 2 overall pick was sent to play out last season with the Dakota Wizards.

Now the Grizzlies are fighting for the a playoff spot, and I can only imagine how much easier it would be with a guy like Blair rather than big old Thabeet.

Unknown said...

Yes. Not only did the Grizzlies pass on DeJuan Blair and Stephan Curry, they also said no to hometown favorite Tyreke Evans.

Captain Easychord said...

in short, everyone passed on blair because he was no functioning ACLs... <a href=">full story here</a>

Messiah said...

We have a new blog sponsor this month, do we? Your product placements are 30-Rock worthy.

Sean said...

Mr. Brame - I have no problem with Memphis' decision not to draft Blair. As Captain Easychord mentioned, the no ACL thing scared everyone away, so there was no reason he should have been a lottery pick. Now choosing Thabeet over players like Evans, Curry, James Harden, Brandon Jennings & DeMar DeRozan was an extremely poor decision.

Getting back to Blair, he definitely should have been a 1st round pick. Look at some of the guys drafted at the end of the first round: Byron Mullens, DeMarre Carroll & Victor Claver. There's no reason why these guys should have gone before Blair.

Messiah - You may have noticed that I had the CBS college basketball crew as guests earlier this week. I had to find some way to pay for them!