The quest to reach the NBA doesn’t stop for former Brusly and University of New Orleans big man, Travin Thibodeaux.
Thibodeaux concluded his first season with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Indiana Pacers’ G-League affiliate, in March.
The 6-foot-8 forward finished the season averaging 6.1 points and 5.6 rebounds in just 19 minutes of action per game.
Thibodeaux was able to parlay his season into an opportunity to play for the Indiana Pacers’ summer league team in the Las Vegas Summer League earlier this month.
“The summer league experience was amazing,” he said. “The Indiana Pacers are a first-class organization and I am grateful that they gave me an opportunity to play. It was about getting out there and just saying I belong.”
Thibodeaux played in two of the five games for the Pacers. Following summer league, he took time to reflect on his first year in the G-League and the transition from college to the professional ranks.
“It was kind of tough going from being the best player on the team to just getting in where I fit in,” Thibodeaux stated. “Now it’s the best player from almost every school competing and it’s about finding a role.”
In addition to adjusting to a new phase of life professionally, Thibodeaux admittedly had to adjust to a different way of living in a part of the country vastly different from south Louisiana.
“I’m a down south kid and once I got there, I had to bundle up,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s a whole other world over there.”
The G-League has proven to be a productive path to the NBA for a plethora of athletes. Thibodeaux said each success story has given him more hope that he will accomplish his dream.
A few notable G-League alums who are now in the NBA include All-Star Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Seth Curry (Dallas Mavericks), Hassan Whiteside (Portland Trailblazers) and NBA champion Danny Green (Los Angeles Lakers).
“The G-League is a great league,” Thibodeaux said. “I feel blessed that I’m on that path… It gives me more push when other guys make it. It goes to show that all the hard work comes to fruition.”
The forward said maturity on and off the court is just one of the ways his game has improved since his days at Brusly.
“My game has improved tremendously,” he said. “I’m more patient and I think more about what I need to do. In my Brusly days, I was just playing on my athleticism and being better than everyone.”
The former UNO Privateer likened his game to a three-time NBA champion who is considered the backbone of his squad.
“I think my game is similar to Draymond (Green),” he said. “Loves to do the dirty work for his team. He’s the backbone and makes his teammates better and he wants to grind on defense.”
Getting called up to the NBA is the main goal, but Thibodeaux said he has set other goals heading into next season.
“I’m trying to improve on my weaknesses,” he said. “I’m coming into this year with a lot of optimism. Just want to make a full 180 from last year. I have my eyes set on Most Improved Player (award) next season.”