A former top college player, a lottery pick and an NBA veteran is heading to the D-League. Who is this guy? Well, it’s Tyler Hansbrough. Psycho T is back playing basketball but with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, not an NBA team just yet.
Tyler Hansbrough attended the University of North Carolina, where he played all four seasons. After his four-year college career, Hansbrough was drafted in the 1st round, 13th overall to the Indiana Pacers. Hansbrough spent his first four seasons with the Pacers where he was a solid rotation piece, even having the odd start. He averaged 8.9 points and 4.7 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game. As well Hansbrough shot a total of 41.5% from the field in his time with the Pacers.
After his four years with the Pacers, he was a free agent and signed a two-year deal with the Toronto Raptors. In Toronto, Hansbrough would add backup depth at the power forward position and add toughness to the Raptors lineup. In Toronto, Hansbrough was nothing more than a middle of the rotation bench player chipping in for a couple points and a couple rebounds.
Following a mediocre two seasons with Toronto, he decided to move on to head into free agency again and sign with the Charlotte Hornets on a one-year deal. Hansbrough struggled during that lone season with Charlotte as he put up 2.4 points and 2 rebounds in 44 games where he averaged 7.8 minutes per game. Hansbrough again headed to free agency this time no contract was signed with an NBA team.
Hansbrough went the next several months without a contract, and with that signed with the NBA D-League. On March 1, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants won the waiver claim on Tyler Hansbrough. He would play for the Indiana Pacers affiliate, back to where it started only this time he was playing with the squad’s minor league club.
Hansbrough’s only reason to come to the D-League was simple, be here as short as possible and be back up in the NBA by years end. His performance and play so far have only helped his cause, as Hansbrough has added toughness to the Mad Ants roster who is fighting for playoff position.
On the offensive end of the court, Hansbrough like mentioned above adds toughness and grit to the Mad Ants roster. Hansbrough will often be in the post looking for offensive rebounds where he can kick it out to his guards. In just 10 games, Hansbrough is averaging more than four offensive rebounds a game which has helped the Mad Ants roster.
Coinciding with that, he can add help late in the shot clock as the Mad Ant guards can find Hansbrough in the post for a bucket or a foul. As if that wasn’t enough Hansbrough’s pick and roll has been tremendous helping the Mad Ants guards get open shots which will result in better looks and more makes.
It isn’t just the offensive end that Hansbrough has been helping the Mad Ants, as he has been a huge addition on the defensive end of the court. As Hansbrough just like the offensive end will be in the post opposing the other teams big. In only a few games it is clear he is a lot stronger and tougher than most D-League big men who go up against Hansbrough. As Hansbrough is a huge factor on getting defensive rebounds and chipping in with a block here and there. Hansbrough is currently averaging 7.4 defensive rebounds, 0.6 blocks and 0.6 steals per game.
Hansbrough continues to be better and better every game. Just this past week against Delaware he played in 42 minutes, where he put up 31 points and 16 rebounds while shooting 12/17 from the field. If that doesn’t look like he is ready to return to the NBA, I don’t know what will. Hansbrough deserves to be back in the NBA and should be.
Although if he fails to get a call-up and stays with the Mad Ants for the playoffs, the Mad Ants will be a scary team. It already has Alex Poythress, Travis Leslie, and Jordan Loyd among others.