Gottlieb credited Calhoun's system for helping some of his former players stand out, specifically big men who benefit from guards being instructed to funnel players into the teeth of the defense where shot blockers loom. Nonetheless, Gottlieb said, Thabeet is legit and has the size, timing and fundamental principles of defending without fouling to excel at what he does best at the next level.
"He really has made remarkable improvement, and for a period of time he dominated college basketball," Gottlieb said of Thabeet, who averaged 4.2 blocked shots before declaring after his junior season. "They're making everybody drive to him, and nobody wants to drive at him because he blocks everything."
Thabeet was last season's Big East Defensive Player of the Year, the same honor Armstrong, Boone and Okafor carried with them as they started their professional careers. But many NBA people who scrutinized Thabeet all season believe he has ample skills to avoid falling into the Armstrong/Boone category.
"He changes games," an Eastern Conference scout told The Oklahoman. "If he doesn't give you anything on the offensive end, he can change the game defensively. There's not a lot of guys in this draft that can come in with their presence alone who can alter the game."