Moore: It wasn't necessarily that I didn't like the offensive moves that Thabeet displayed this season. It's that he didn't display any. Hasheem Thabeet has a great Twitter account, terrific length, and an offensive ceiling that makes Anderson Varejao look dynamic.
In a lot of ways I should be banging the gong for Thabeet. All potential, no refinement. All athleticism, no fundamentals. That's usually my bag, baby. But the kid's not a super freak in terms of bulk, he's just long. He's the spacebar on the keyboard, only not as necessary. Longer than everything else, but in the end, it's just a space.
I can't get over how this guy is above Jordan Hill, or DeJuan Blair, guys who can do more than stick their hands way up in the air. Premier big men in this league, the kind you want to spend a top 3 pick on, all have some level of touch around the basket, save Dwight Howard. And Thabeet is no Dwight Howard. Of course, when he was drafted, Dwight Howard wasn't Dwight Howard.
I think, if nothing else, Thabeet will give you a couple blocked shots a game. Chris Andersen did that for Denver, and he became a hero. Of course, Andersen could also rebound, and it's unclear how dominant Thabeet will be on the boards -- he was an awful rebounder until this season, when he became just solid considering his size and the lack of quickness in most Big East big men.
So Thabeet will at least be a nice defensive role player, a Keon Clark. But he could also anchor a defense, if he has a heart transplant and red-ass coach. I think teams will always bet on the upside in the NBA draft, and Thabeet in the top five is a great example of that. It's hard to fault them.
Moore: But with your #2 overall pick, are you really aiming for Chris Anderson or Keon Clark? Aren't you aiming for someone that can be a difference maker on your team? Even the kid's exorbitantly high ideal-model, Dikembe Mutumbo, isn't what you'd call a franchise player (unless you mean that almost every franchise has given him a job at some point). Those top picks have to be used on players with the utmost potential and ability, not just size. You can't teach size, but you also won't suddenly become naturally good at basketball at a professional level.
Am I being too hard on the kid? I agree that he might be a serviceable player at some point, much like Rubio could end up being fine, but these aren't game-changers. Thabeet is maybe, hopefully, possibly going to be a defensive presence at some point. Like 90% of the offensively dreadful bigs in the NBA.
Ziller: I think the bet, if you take Thabeet in the top five, which I don't necessarily encourage, is that a) he will be better than that 90% cross-section on NBA big men with stillborn offensive games, and b) no one who goes behind him will be any sort of star. And really, no one thinks anyone in this draft is destined to be star, with only three or four players having any sort of audience to that claim. (Remember last year, when the proverbial "most electric forward" Anthony Randolph went No. 14. Not happening this time.)
Thabeet showed improved every year during his college stay, so you could hope his offensive game develops a tiny bit without being completely naive. At the same time, by the end of this junior season, he still lacked any sense of on-court toughness. No one will ever forget the Blair Wars, nor should we. Your defensive talisman can't get knocked out of the game by a 6'5 bully.
Here's a question: if defense were completely measurable, just as offense is rather close to being, and it turned out that in college Thabeet's defense was as highly rated as Blake Griffin's offense -- and let's tether Griffin's defense and Thabeet's offense together as equal -- would you still take Griffin over Thabeet?
Moore: Absolutely, and I'll tell you why. The draft is such a crapshoot, such an unpredictable, unreliable, PR-nightmare blind shot in the dark, that your objective unless you see someone who is truly a steal should be to simply avoid getting blasted for a pick. Picking the wrong guy high makes you look idiotic, even if he was the obvious choice at the time. And here's the rub: That's why you can't really blame Memphis or OKC for taking Thabeet. Because he is regarded as such a better prospect than the other players, and if he turns out to be better, they get grilled for the pick.
The politics of the draft get in the way so often of the best players being drafted where they should.
Which leads us to an entirely different question: What are the players that you think aren't getting enough hype?
Next time on The Moore and Ziller Show: the answer to that very question. The suspense builds!