Assigning the second overall pick in the NBA draft to the D-League was a move that came with some risks. But all parties agreed that Hasheem Thabeet's 10-day stint with the Dakota Wizards played out exactly as hoped.
"It went pretty good," Thabeet said. "I just came out here and worked hard and tried to accomplish as much as we can. I've been getting a lot of minutes, getting to go up and down (the court) - it's been a lot of fun."
Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace was at the Bismarck Civic Center to evaluate Thabeet on Sunday.
Wallace liked what he saw and left the door open for a possible return.
"We do like the progress he's made here," Wallace said. "I think that (Wizards coach) Rory White and the organization have done a great job with him.
"... We'll evaluate the possibility of further assignments, because this has been beneficial, and he has two (possible assignments) left in his back pocket."
In six games with the Wizards, Thabeet averaged 13.8 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.2 blocks in 31 minutes per game. Thabeet shot an even 50 percent from the floor and 69.0 percent from the line. The Wizards went 5-1 with him in the lineup.
"He's been active. He's running the court well. You can feel his presence on both ends of the floor. It's been very positive," Wallace said.
"... Not that statistics are everything, but he's scoring, he's rebounding, he's blocking some shots and the team is winning games," Wallace added. "Right there, on surface value, it tells you that things are going well."
For more in-depth evaluation, Wallace has relied upon reports from Grizzlies' assistant Mitchell Anderson. Anderson has been with the Wizards for the last five games to monitor Thabeet's progress.
"He handled it very well," Anderson said. "... He had one bad game, but other than that he has played well. We want to see if he does the things we're talking about, like run the floor, post up, block shots, rebound."
White said he has enjoyed the chance to work with Thabeet.
"I think mentally this is good for him to be able to touch the ball, to run up and down the floor, to block the shots," White said. "I think when he goes back, he takes what he learned here over this week back there, and maybe he can get back in the rotation.
"The best thing was his willingness to learn and listen. A guy of his caliber, and being the second overall pick, to come down - it can be tough on you. But instead of him being mad and angry, he was like, ‘What can I do to get back (to the NBA)?' "
Anderson acknowledged that Thabeet was "sad" when leaving Memphis, but added that he took a positive approach to the assignment. Veteran Wizards forward Renaldo Major also praised Thabeet's attitude.
"I like him," Major said. "He's the second pick in the draft, so it's tough to come down here - he feel like he's been demoted. But I told him he's just got to get better. ‘The Memphis Grizzlies expect a lot out of you. They expect you to be an all-star. So just come down here and get better. ... You just need to develop a little bit more.'
"He's got a great attitude. He's a big kid, but he's very fun though, and he's got a good sense of humor. We love him down here."
In turn, Thabeet said he was impressed with the work ethic of players in the D-League.
"Everybody competes," he said. "Everybody wants to get to the next level. The guys come out and work hard."
Wallace said that guard Lester Hudson will remain with the Wizards and didn't want to put a timetable on how long his assignment will last.
As for Thabeet, he said that if a return trip to Bismarck is in his future, he'll try to get as much out of it as he did the first time around.
"They sent me out here for a reason," Thabeet said. "It's not a punishment. They sent me down here to get something done. That's what it is. I come out here, and get something done and go back."