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Blake Griffin and Hasheem Thabeet Have First NBA Clash, Only One Proves a Titan

John LorgeSenior Writer IJuly 17, 2009

Freaks.

For one, it's the body of Greek God and the athleticism of a Puma.

For the other his extended extremities and the ability to swat shots like King Kong swats helicopters.

Blake Griffin and Hasheem Thabeet are both freaks in every sense of the word, but if a freak is what it takes to be one of the top two picks in the NBA draft, I’ll take it.

Thursday Night was the first of many meetings between Griffin and Thabeet, and although individual stats don't suggest it, Thabeet came out the victor by a landslide.

For Los Angles and Memphis, the final score was 68 to 85, respectively.  For Griffin and Thabeet, it was 18 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and one blocked shot to seven points, three rebounds, zero assists, and zero blocks—and for lack of a better word—respectively.

With many rookies flourishing in Las Vegas' 2009 NBA Summer League, you may have not expected the No. 2 pick in the draft to average 7.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks through three games.

Or maybe you would have.

Thabeet has size on his side, in-fact, he sticks out like a sore thumb in the Summer League that's lacking true centers—but he hasn't done a great job of using it. 

There were times at UConn last year where Thabeet looked very focused, very passionate about basketball, and very dominant, especially on defense.

Even though the Summer League is more about showing you have the offensive game to make it in the NBA than it is about staunch defense; if Thabeet wants to be feared when roaming the lane, he needs to establish his reputation early and often.

For Griffin, the Summer League has been a fairy tale of sorts.  Averaging 20.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game, Griffin is in the running for Summer League MVP.

The only real knock on Griffin is that he is shooting an abysmal 42.1 percent from the free throw line, however, it is offset by a 56.5 percent field goal percentage.

In the game Thursday Night, Griffin and Thabeet encountered tough matchups from second-year pros, when not boxing each other out.

Griffin was guarded majorly by Darrell Arthur.  Griffin is stronger than Arthur, but Darrell is a very long and athletic defender.  The two are familiar with each other, matching up two years ago in the Big 12.

Early in the game Griffin didn't take it too Arthur much, instead, he settled for bank shot attempts that couldn't find their mark.

Even when Griffin wasn’t hitting he still worked on the offensive glass and while he looked for his shots he didn't force them.

Thabeet was guarded by the Clippers developing center, DeAndre Jordan, who has been spectacular in Las Vegas.

Offensively, Thabeet looks lost at times.  He stood upright in the post, not even attempting to get position, and his lack of effort was reflected by his 1-3 shooting night.

On defense, Thabeet may not have recorded a block but he held Jordan to two points on 1-4 shooting.  Not bad considering Jordan was averaging 18.5 points in his first two games.

Throughout the game it was much of the same. 

With Eric Gordon sitting out, Griffin served as an overall facilitator on offense, using his athleticism and court awareness to create opportunities for him and his teammates. 

Thabeet on the other hand fumbled the ball, leading to blown post-ups and five turnovers.  He worked to rebound but I wouldn't say he fought.  Overall, he looked like he is still feeling the NBA game out.

For Griffin and Thabeet it may be a tale of two seasons as rookies, I just hope for Hasheem's sake that he can figure out what the NBA is all about before it's too late.  As for Blake, it looks like he's well on his way.

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