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Is Tyler Hansbrough an NBA Player?

By 01.14.08

The clip of Tyler Hansbrough cramming on giant 7-8 Kenny George last week sparked a debate on the Dime site about Hansbrough’s prospects of playing in the League. Some were quick to make a preposterous comparison between T and Mark Madsen, a 10.9-point, 7.9-rebound per night guy during his four-year tenure at Stanford. This parallel is exactly the type that ESPN’s Bill Simmons points to in his most recent NBA column: he makes analogies between Chris Kaman and Moses Malone, and later between Al Jefferson and Kevin McHale to break “the media’s ‘don’t compare white guys with black guys’ rule twice in the same section.”

Truthfully, Hansbrough is more Carlos Boozer than Shavlik Randolph during their respective playing days at Duke. Boozer left for the NBA after his junior season, in which he tallied 18.7 points and 8.7 boards per game – a shade under Hansbrough’s 21.2 and 9.9. In fact, the ’01-02 Dukies’ squad featured a trio similar to this year’s Tar Heels. Jason Williams, Mike Dunleavy and Boozer earned All-American honors after leading the Blue Devils to a No-1 seed in the Dance. While Ty Lawson qualifies only as a homeless man’s Jay Williams, UNC actually fits the same mold with a speedy point guard, a deadly shooter (Wayne Ellington) and an ox at power forward.

Boozer used his 6-8, 258 lbs. frame under the boards in college to do the majority of his damage. His 12 to 15-footer became a more reliable tool during his ’06-07 season with the Jazz when he boosted from 6.6 field goals per game to 8.7. Likewise, Hansbrough is largely a below-the-rim forward who outmuscles opponents with his 6-9 250 lbs. frame. In both cases, their physical strength is at the core of an outstanding ability to finish around the basket.

Since leaving Durham, Booze expanded his game and his body to a stout 6-9, 266 lbs. It’s tough to imagine Psycho T remaining static at 250 lbs. This is the guy who trained during the off-season by pushing the Tar Heels’ strength and conditioning coach’s SUV around a parking lot for a leg workout. His workout regiment was the reason for the nickname.

If the major knock on Hansbrough is his athleticism, the two-hander over George should help to dispel doubters. Sure, questions remain about how he’ll fare down the line. Add this query to the list: could Boozer have dunked on George when he played in the ACC?


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