So it’s official. After much to do about not allowing NBA teams to speak with Iranian star Hamed Haddidi, the Memphis Grizzlies have signed the free agent center.
The United States government reversed its decision to allow teams to speak with Haddidi, despite the disagreements between the US and Iranian government.
The 7’2” behemoth garnered a lot of attention from NBA scouts after posting some wonderful numbers in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Haddidi dropped a solid 16.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per contest in Beijing. Despite his team’s struggles, he was one of the best international players in the entire competition.
After spending last season playing in Iran’s first league, the 23-year-old will be making the jump to Memphis to join another international big man, Marc Gasol.
Although it is quite difficult to find information on the dynamic center, he has had his fair share of experience at the pro level. Sure, he is only 23, but he has been playing in the pro ranks in Iran since he was 14.
He was eligible for the 2004 NBA Draft, but no team took a chance on Haddidi, so he continued to hone his skills in his home country.
Haddidi led his club team to the Asian Club Championship this past year, and should have a relatively large impact for the Grizzlies in a matter of years.
He will likely ride the bench for most of the season this year, but will work hard with the NBA coaches to get more physical to compete on the low blocks.
One part of Haddidi’s game that needs significant work is his conditioning. He is comparable to UNC-Asheville’s Kenny George, the 7’7” giant, because both can only play limited minutes due to exhaustion.
What will Haddidi do in the NBA? No one knows. But if he could be 75 percent of what Rik Smits was, the Grizzlies should be pretty happy with the signing.
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