Few things in life are givens: the enduring popularity of American Idol will continue to dumbfound me; televisions shows like CSI and Law and Order are, undoubtedly, undermining America's jury system; Boy Meets World will someday be recognized as one of television's greatest shows; and thousands of years from now, after our civilization has been destroyed, our descendants will excavate the ruins of Memphis, TN and believe it to have been the ancient holy land of a religion that worshipped a singing and dancing god named Elvis.
Another given: The Memphis Grizzlies will lose 50 games next season.
Now, it's understandable that you can't teach height and that defense wins championships. There is something to be said, moreover, for making the unsexy, boring draft pick that won't win you any fans where there were none already.
But Hasheem Thabeet?
Come on. You also can't teach putting on weight if the guy's body isn't built for it.
The other day, I heard Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim extolling the defensive presence of the "Tanzanian Terror," saying that he blocked X amount of shots and altered who the hell knows how many more.
The essential part of Thabeet's "defensive presence," however, is, for all the hype about the "best conference in the history of college basketball," the Big East is not the NBA.
Thabeet's most unforgettable moment in college was being suplexed by DuJuan Blair, a 6'6'' power forward. It's safe to say that was the last time Mr. Thabeet will ever guard a player that short.
In fact, Thabeet may, and I stress may because it's not even a given for Thabeet, be one of only two Big East players drafted last week who'll start for his team next season. (Jonny Flynn being the other.)
It seems all too possible that he could very easily develop into the "we're only scratching the surface" guy.
The guy who every coach believes he, and only he, can get something out of. On his fourth coach, with his third team we'll still be hearing that Thabeet is still only 20-something years old and how there's plenty of "untapped potential" and how he's "turning the corner" and "on the cusp."
But this isn't really about the "Tanzanian Terror," is it?
It's really about the Grizzlies, an organization hell bent on building around its young core—Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, and OJ Mayo—a proposition so absurd, no one who isn't being paid by "Miserly" Mike or a complete, irredeemable homer believes it.
Is this core any better than the last one, the last time the Grizzlies attempted alchemy?
Rudy Gay is what he is, the proverbial mirage, a tease who will probably never put it all together.
And, though it's still early for Conley, the lucid among us know the truth: He's a career backup, which is odd because the Grizzlies are now saying one of the things they need is a backup point guard.
Guys, you have one already. He's your starting point guard.
OJ, the only thing there is to say about OJ is, hopefully, he scores 50 in one of the Grizzlies 25 to 30 wins next season.
With all the writing on the wall, nonetheless, it's still hard not to feel, at the very least, some minimal, involuntary amount of optimism about next year. Seeing Thabeet pushing Grizzlies' tickets in newspaper ads can even warm some part of the cynic's heart.
And that's the point of the draft: to give some hope to the apparently hopeless, which is fitting for the city that's home to St. Jude Hospital.
DeMarre Carroll seems as though he intends to be and will succeed at being a crowd favorite.
And, after drafting Darrell Arthur last year, it doesn't seem that playing for a team that knocked the Tigers out of the tournament will be held against him (though one wonders whether Carroll brings with him the total package that Wayne Ellington, the man the Grizzlies considered taking, would have brought with him).
Even though I'm older than him, Sam Young looks like he could be my uncle, but not any uncle.
He looks like that cool uncle with a trashy live-in girlfriend, that cool uncle who teaches you about girls and making money by "getting over" and about alcohol that we all wanted and the lucky ones had.
And, for all of my skepticism, Thabeet will probably fit in well in Memphis.
You see, there's a phenomenon in this city in which a woman's attractiveness has an inverse relationship with her paramour's, let's just say, lack of handsomeness.
Welcome to Memphis, Hasheem, welcome to Memphis.
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