With the season already past the midway point, NBA GMs have their minds set on the NBA Playoffs. But for those teams that will be counting ping pong balls instead of playoff victories, the upcoming NBA Draft has many intriguing prospects that need to be recognized. So before March Madness completely takes over, Dime contributor Lucas Shapiro will be profiling players and giving them a team that would best fit their talent. Last week was Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors, so now we’re on to Marshall’s Hassan Whiteside.
Player Comparisons: David Robinson, Marcus Camby and Theo Ratliff
If you were to design the perfect body for a center, you would have to take Hassan Whiteside’s frame. He has great length and coordination, the perfect combination to make an imposing shot-blocker. It’s very surprising that a specimen like Whiteside slipped through the cracks of college recruiting and ended up at Marshall University. Whiteside still needs to add some upper body strength since he tends to get beat up in the post by bulkier opponents, but the way Whiteside moves is rare for someone who is seven feet tall. Unlike many young seven footers, Whiteside never looks clumsy or out of place on the court. He’s born to play this game.
For a guy who only started playing basketball a few years ago, Whiteside shows flashes of having good fundamentals. Offensively, Whiteside needs to polish up his post game since he tends to be too predictable at times. His mid-range jump shot is fairly consistent but could use some improvement. His offensive arsenal is fairly reminiscent on Antawn Jamison‘s since he has a knack for making shots at strange angles. However, his shot selection is very questionable despite his ability to hit tough shots. When it comes to putting the ball on the floor and passing out of the post, Whiteside is very limited. On the defensive end, Whiteside relies on his length to shutdown opponents. For now, relying on athleticism works considering he blocks 5.4 shots. In the NBA, everyone has incredible length and Whiteside will need to understand defensive positioning better. The opposite could be said about his rebounding since he is great a boxing out despite his lack of strength.
Take a look at every Draft and you will see numerous athletic big men who leave for the NBA too early. Guys like Patrick O’Bryant, Brandan Wright and Stromile Swift were once named players with enormous upside and have not made an impact in the League. It is very unlikely that Whiteside is ready for the big jump right now, but NBA general managers are drooling over his potential and would be willing to draft him in the Lottery. Whiteside could be this year’s version of Hasheem Thabeet, a player who was clearly not ready to contribute right away but is drafted high for the team’s future plans. Since he plays for a small school, it is hard to measure whether he’ll be ready to contribute at all right away.
It continues to be difficult for NBA teams to find quality centers these days. Scouts are searching everywhere for centers capable of being anchors for their team’s defenses. Whiteside has become an intriguing prospect since he’s drawn comparisons to greats such as Camby and Robinson. He has great upside due to his athleticism and room for improvement. He’ll need to land on a patient team that is willing to deal with frustrating times. For a franchise, he could be able to make a huge impact down the road. Defensively, he has the potential to become an all-time great shot-blocker. Everyone raves about how he’s only a freshman, but remember that he is already 20 years old. This could limit his potential to a certain point if he does not develop fast enough.
Best Fit: Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers have been dying for a reliable big man ever since Allen Iverson left for Denver. When they signed Elton Brand, they envisioned him coming in and dominating on both ends of the floor instantly. Unfortunately, that has not been the case and it has hurt all of the other big men on the team in the meantime. Marreese Speights averages 16 minutes per game on the Sixers and would be a starter on any other rebuilding team. Samuel Dalembert has become frustrated and wants to leave. This is the perfect opportunity for Whiteside considering he will not get to play right away and could develop while Philadelphia deals with it’s big men issues. He can learn how to take advantage of his length from Brand, a veteran who’s mentoring is likely better than his play. Just imagine a future front court featuring Speights and Whiteside. That would be a great start for this rebuilding team. Now all they need is the next Iverson to come around and Philly would be competitive for many years to come.
Runner-Up: Golden State Warriors
The guards have been all the hype in Oakland these days. Stephen Curry has been putting on a show for the League ever since 2010 rolled around. In order for this team to be successful, they need to have more than just capable guards. They’ve relied on the D-League to give their front court a boost, but this can only last so long. Bringing in Whiteside would help Golden State in numerous ways. First off, Whiteside would put pressure on Andris Biedrins to step up his game. Since Golde State does not believe in defense, the shot-blocking that Whiteside would bring would be a great change of pace. The only apparent issue is that the Warriors already have skinny big men like Whiteside such as Anthony Randolph and Brandan Wright. If Golden State gets the chance to draft Whiteside, hopefully they see this as an opportunity to finally change their franchise – for the better.
What do you think?
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