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Hasheem Thabeet Declares for the NBA Draft: Where Will He Wind Up?

Ryan WinnAnalyst IApril 14, 2009

DETROIT - APRIL 04:  Hasheem Thabeet #34 of the Connecticut Huskies reacts after he scored a basket in the first half against 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 Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Watch out, here he comes.

ESPN has reported that UConn center Hasheem Thabeet, long thought of as the most dominating defender in college basketball, has declared for the NBA Draft.

At 7'3", Thabeet will find a welcoming home in the NBA, but will he pan out?

In the 2008 college basketball season, Thabeet registered double-digit rebounds 18 times, had 16 games with at least five blocks, and had six games with at least 20 points.

Will his game transfer to the professional level? It is a legitimate question. A sound argument can be made about how his insane average of blocked shots (4.2 per game) is mostly due to his towering size unmatched by those against him.

Is there really any difference in the NBA?

None of the current centers in the NBA over seven feet tall had more than 2.0 blocks per game this season.

Thabeet's offensive game is in question. Despite his great size, he had trouble backing defenders down, and relies heavily on spin moves and his height to get easy buckets. If he can continue to do that in the NBA, he will be a modest, but not explosive, offensive threat.

There is no question about his defensive prowess, however. He will make life a living nightmare for driving guards such as Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, and Dwyane Wade, as he has shown that he can deter almost any shot that comes his way, even if he doesn't get a hand on it.

The question that will be lingering on everyone's mind is where Thabeet will end up.

Because of his great size, combined with his shot blocking and rebounding ability, Thabeet should be considered a lottery pick at this point. A look at the bottom five teams in the league shows where he would best fit.

Whichever team wins the NBA Draft Lottery would most likely select Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin, so for that purpose, let's assume they are considering Thabeet with the No. 2-No. 5 picks. Probability of selecting is on a 1-10 scale.

Sacramento Kings

After trading center Brad Miller to Chicago, the Kings are left with an empty void in the middle. Current center Spencer Hawes is a bench-player at best, averaging 11.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.

If the Kings are happy with this production, however, they should go smaller and find a complement to Kevin Martin. The fact that they have the most balls in the lottery also means Blake Griffin is No. 1 on their radar, but stranger things have happened (see Chicago Bulls).

Probability—5

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers have some young scoring talent with Eric Gordon and Al Thornton, and have an aging Marcus Camby in the frontcourt. However, they just signed center Chris Kaman to a five-year extension, so the chances of going center early is low.

Probability—2

Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder seem to be going down the right path with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Jeff Green, so an imposing center would go well with this tandem. Having Green, Thabeet, and the talented DJ White in the frontcourt spells good fortunes for the future of OKC. Current center Nenad Kristic signed a three-year deal with them early this season, but Thabeet's talent greatly outweighs that of Kristic

Probability—8

Washington Wizards

This team is falling to shambles, and they need someone in the middle to help fill that void. Gilbert Arenas is not likely to go anywhere soon, but they may need someone to help down-low to keep Antwan Jamison happy. Current center Brendan Haywood is definitely not the answer they are looking for. With their best chance being at the No. 4 spot, look for the Wizards to grab Thabeet.

Probability—9

Minnesota Timberwolves

Another one of those teams going nowhere fast, the 'Wolves need something to get excited about. Having a big man in the middle can certainly do that. Current center Kevin Love plays a game much more suited to the power forward position, as does leading scorer Al Jefferson.

Throw Thabeet into that rotation and you could have a formidable frontcourt while they figure out the guards. However, having Love and Jefferson may make Minnesota think they are set up front, and go small in the draft.

Probability—3

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