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Be Like Greg: Memphis Sees Hasheem Thabeet's Future in Oden

DETROIT - APRIL 04:  Hasheem Thabeet #34 of the Connecticut Huskies looks on while taking on the Michigan State Spartans during the National Semifinal game of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Ford Field on April 4, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
A. Enslen ButlerContributor INovember 11, 2009

Memphis fans saw why Greg Oden was the first overall pick in the 2007 Draft.

He roamed the paint at FedEx Forum in the second half and was the difference maker in the paint. Oden had 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks in the second half, and jump-started the Blazers' 14-1 run in the third quarter. Portland went on to cruise to a win over the Memphis Grizzlies, 93-79 Tuesday night.

"The big fellow, Greg Oden, had a nice little stretch there where they were going inside and they were scoring, and he made a couple of nice passes," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said after the game.

When the Grizzlies organization saw that performance, you know the team thought of their young big man, Hasheem Thabeet. In a perfect world, they want Hollins (or a future Grizzlies coach) to say the same thing about him.

However, Memphis' second-overall pick from the 2009 draft is more project than prodigy today.

Eventually, they see Thabeet impacting the game the same way Oden impacted Tuesday's game.

And you can see the similarities. Both drafted more as a defender than a scorer. Both picked on potential more than production.

And now, both had an injury in their rookie season.

Thabeet sustained his first big injury when he collided with Zach Randolph and broken his jaw early in Tuesday's game. He will not be out for the season, but the injury could set his progress back even further.

Thabeet was not getting a lot of playing time anyway. In seven games, he has never played more than 12 minutes and scored four points all season.

It was not a serious as Oden's micro fracture surgery that caused him to miss his rookie year. But it does slow his development.

This is Oden's second year of full-time play and he has his critics. People were even calling him the dreaded "B" word: bust .

On Friday, Greg Oden held his own against Tim Duncan as he scored 14 points, eight boards, and four blocks as Portland beat San Antonio. A Blazers fan can see that Oden is moving in the right direction.

"The biggest thing about tonight is seeing how Greg is a huge part of what we do," Portland guard Brandon Roy said to the Oregonian. "If we can keep him on the floor it makes us a much better team. It opens everything for all of us. So in a lot of ways, it starts with him."

When you read something like this, you want a future Grizzlies player to say that about Thabeet. You want to see him blocking shots, starting fast breaks, and crashing the boards in Memphis.

The bad news: If it is going to happen, it's going to take a lot of time.

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