Hassan Whiteside - Fr. PF/C, Marshall
Per36min numbers against Quality Opponents (10 games):
16.8pts, 9.9rebs, 0.0asts, 0.6stls, 5.4blks, 3.5PFs, 2.3TOs
44.6 FG%, 33.3 3pt% (1/3), 68.1 FT%, .42 FTA/FGA
Standing 6’11 and weighing somewhere around 230 pounds with a mammoth wingspan, Whiteside is tailor-made for playing weakside defense and altering shots around the rim. He went in and smashed the old C-USA single-season blocks record of 143 blocks with 173 blocks of his own. Not only that, but he’s set to become the first freshman to lead the nation in blocks since Travis Williams in 1998-99, an extremely impressive feat.
As a player who will likely be asked to play Center for the majority of his minutes at the next level, Whiteside looks fluid when running the floor and has excellent lateral foot speed. He is a superb athlete for his size, even when taking into account that he’s not an explosive leaper. However, there is a flaw in his physical makeup: he is very weak. He is severely lacking lower body strength, and it is one of the main causes of his problems on both sides of the floor. While he has the frame to add weight, and was rumored to have gained 15-25 pounds last summer, I am skeptical that he will ever reach that 250-260 mark. Does he have to? Not really, but he’ll have to learn how to play against bigger Centers as a similar built player, Marcus Camby, did.
Defensively, he’s a game changer in the lane when it comes to guards or wings penetrating. Because of his lateral quickness, he can quickly get into position and use his pterodactyl-arms to block or alter many of the shot attempts in the lane. It’s scary how effective he is considering his timing isn’t at an elite level. The lateral quickness also allows him to be an effective pick and roll defender. He can easily help hedge screens and make it a seamless switch. He’s truly an elite prospect when it comes to help defense.
When it comes to man defense, it’s a different story. He simply gets overpowered in the post because of his lack of lower body strength and not knowing how to guard punishing post players. On occasion, he can make up for that due to his insane wingspan and quick feet, allowing him to get an angle to block/alter the shot even though he surrendered position. However, more often he’ll get bullied and looks like a boy guarding a man when players go straight at him. This sometimes causes him to pick up cheap fouls, which could be a concern when he goes up against large post players regularly.
On the boards, Whiteside also needs work, as his current style isn’t going to translate favorably to the NBA level against the bigger, stronger, more athletic competition. Right now he gets most of the boards he collects purely off length and athleticism… there is very little fundamental influence. It’s rare where I see him block out as Ed Davis or Derrick Favors do - two guys who could easily do the same thing and rely on athleticism to grab the boards in college games, but don’t because it’s a bad habit. However, the fact that he does hustle for rebounds on occasion is a good sign and makes me think he’s not a lost cause ala Ryan Hollins.
On offense, it’s a mixed bag. When it comes to scoring, he loves taking jumpers, and he’s not afraid to take them 16-20 feet out. He possesses a very smooth jumper for a guy that big, and it’s nearly unblockable even though it’s kind of a slow release. However, the downside is that he settles for jumpers way too often and frequently takes them early in the shot clock. He uses his jumper to set up the occasional drive where he shows off an adequate handle, and because he is usually going to be more athletic than his counterpart, this is an effective part of his game. This could really make him a dangerous pick-and-roll player.
In the post, as he’s basically incapable of being a physical player, so he snakes around players and has to use his adequate handle and length to put up shots which may easily be blocked at the NBA level. This adversely affects his efficiency, as he is not drawing contact and getting to the line as often as he needs to. Often he’ll be seen throwing up awkward flips and really just displaying how raw he is as a post player - though he shows shockingly good touch around the rim. However, because of his athleticism and length, he is able to finish with authority around the rim when he’s able to get position.
To sum up his offensive skills, there are times where he looks brilliant and unstoppable because of his physical gifts and surprising jumper. However, there are times where he basically looks to have zero BBIQ. This can be seen in his shot selection, where he frequently takes shots early in the shot clock; in his post game, where he shows immature post moves and forces up tough, low % shots; in the way he spaces the floor, where he commonly bunches up and allows one man to cover two or doesn’t get himself in good position to receive the ball. I think the most alarming thing, however, is how incapable he is to move the ball when he receives it. Zero assists in 10 quality opponent games is inexcusable. Nine assists in 851 minutes is despicable. When he attempts to pass, it’s usually off-target and/or too hard. He just doesn’t have the feel for a team game on the offensive side of the ball, and it’s very alarming when attempting to project him.
Overall, Whiteside is basically the epitome of a boom or bust player. He could be elite defensively and very useful offensively if he learns to hone his skills and add strength. Right now, however, he’s a pretty big negative on the offensive end when he is not very efficient (ranks last in Center PPP with a 0.88 and 0.42 FTA/FGA) and isn’t able to move the ball or correctly space the floor; while also susceptible to being posted up and abused defensively. I have him at a tentative 8th right now, but certain teams will be more willing to take a chance on this project hoping to strike gold and get a new-age Camby.
(Note: I had originally written this on March 13th, 2010; but I have updated the Quality Opponent stats)