If you were to simply look at the box score or a recap from somebody that didn't watch the game, Hasheem Thabeet's debut in Bismarck would be pretty impressive: 18 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks and two steals in 31 minutes of action. Still, without access to an in-game box score, I had no idea that Thabeet played that well until PA Announcer Scott Woodmansee announced his final line while naming Thabeet player of the name.
In the first quarter, Thabeet played just under six minutes and shot 0-for-3 from the field, picking up two boards, a foul, a block and an assist along the way. His first shot attempt was a 15-footer from the side of the basket that he shot about 17-feet. I facepalmed as soon as I could see the glimmer in his eye that made him believe he could make that shot, but he shot it anyway. He really looked out of sorts and made it past half-court on maybe 3/4 of his possessions.
The rest of the game, he was much better, but it all came in spurts and nothing that required a talent more than being tall and athletic, aside from his lefty-hook - my favorite part of his repertoire and a turn-around jumper that probably would be a fun addition, but I'd rather he work on something a bit more powerful. He's not Nikoloz Tskitishvili. He also only two points off of offensive putbacks, which is a bit surprising, but he wasn't nearly as active on the glass as he should have been - so I guess it wasn't that surprising.
Defensively, he's great. You knew that. When he's trying, he makes the Wizards the best team in the D-League because they can pressure the ball on the wings knowing if they're beat, Thabeet will be there to block, or at least alter, the shot.
He was outworked for rebounding position the first few times down the court and for the remainder of the game, Thabeet seemed resigned to let Albuquerque have the rebound if they were going to require him to work for it. He did rack up 13 rebounds, I guess, but that's more of a fault of the terrible hands of Albuquerque's bigmen than anything Thabeet did to outwork them. Thabeet was matched-up 6-foot-10 Kurt Looby, a former Iowa product, and Shagari Alleyne, a 7-foot-3 big man out of the University of Kentucky, who was apparently a last minute addition judging from the "T-Birds Add Alleyne To Roster" email I received at halftime. Though neither is an amazing talent, they're both big and weren't afraid of Thabeet, leading Thabeet to not play with much heart when it came to cleaning the glass. (Full disclosure: Dakota did outrebound Albuquerque)
I also wasn't impressed with his effort. I realize he's in the D-League and thus, he probably doesn't feel the need to go hard for the 30 minutes he plays, but if I was sent to the D-League, I'd do everything possible to be dominant and show my team why I belong in the NBA. Thabeet seems to believe, and he's right, that since he's the number two overall pick, he'll be back up in the NBA regardless of this assignment. He played hard at points, but never seemed to string it together. If nothing else, go out and play as hard as you can for 30 minutes. Put up 30 point, 25 rebound, 13 block game and show that you belong in the NBA rather than mope to an 18 point, 13 rebound effort in a 28-point blowout. If nothing else, at least it'll be a confidence builder.
Last, but not least, he just seems lost out there at times. This is partially because it's only his third game with the team, I know, but there were points where he seemed utterly confused as to what he was doing out on the court. Granted, it wasn't for long amounts of time and he made up for them by rotating well to block a shot or find a way to cut to the rim and get open for the easy bucket, but with as raw as he is, he can't afford to have "lapses in judgment" as a negative on his scouting report.
I've got nothing else to add to my report from this game except it was 109-81 victory. I will more than likely be at the game live again tomorrow and am hoping Thabeet shows a bit of effort. I truly think he'll be a good player, but if he's not going to give his best effort to dominate a D-League game, I don't think he's as close to contributing in the NBA as I thought after watching his first two games in the D-League.