Season in Review: #34 Hasheem Thabeet
Up by 20 or down by 20, one of the constants on the Thunder sidelines this season was the perpetual optimism, positivity and energy of Hasheem Thabeet.
The Thunder’s backup center didn’t rack up a ton of minutes on the court this year, but he always managed to have a great attitude and continued to work hard to stay ready. In team huddles, in the locker room and on the road, Thabeet made sure everyone on the squad, and in the organization, was feeling good about themselves and feel like an integral part of the group. His passion for his teammates has been an undeniable force over the past two years in Oklahoma City.
“It’s been a great two years of my life being out here in Oklahoma,” Thabeet said. “A whole lot of guys, I know them outside of basketball. So to be a part of this brings us even closer together. It’s been a great run.”
“Everybody is young, everybody competes, everybody loves each other and we joke around,” Thabeet continued. “That is what makes us come closer together every day. We hang out with each other, we go to each other’s houses and we know where everybody lives. That’s been a great key for us.”
Despite not playing for much of the season, Thabeet was diligent and consistent in his work, and ready when his name was called. When Kendrick Perkins went down with an injury right after the All-Star Break, Thabeet was suddenly thrust into the rotation. In three consecutive games Thabeet played 17, 18 and 18 minutes, and all three games ended in Thunder wins, including a tightly contested 113-107 home win over the Memphis Grizzlies. In fact, in the seven games this year that Thabeet played ten-or-more minutes, the Thunder went 6-1. For role players like Thabeet, staying ready is not just important, it is vital to their ability to impact winning.
“I just can’t stop working because you never know what is going to happen in this league,” Thabeet explained. “I kept working and kept believing. My teammates kept telling me to keep going. Big man coach Mark Bryant has been motivating me on staying ready. When the time was called, I was able to and produced.”