“I’m just tryna get my 2k rating up”
The Old NBA Center is dead!
Long live the New NBA Center!
The Era of “Dump-the-Ball-to-the-Big-Man” is over; we are entering an era In the NBA that’s becoming increasingly centered around ball-handlers who can penetrate and score. The quintessential big-man is now a rim protector, and Whiteside is among the best of them. While players at the 1-4 now need to be able to shoot from range, or risk becoming obsolete, an NBA center thrives as long as he can do two things effectively: protect the rim on defense, and roll to the rim on offense. Observe:
From Tyson Chandler, to Dwight Howard, to DeAndre Jordan, to Hassan Whiteside, the boulder style of offensive center has become the standard for excellence. A center can’t operate as the focal point of the offense without a talented guard to play off of his pick-and-roll game: having one-on-one post moves are a nice bonus, but as long as you’re big, athletic, and can catch an alley-oop, they aren’t a necessity. You may have noticed that team’s aren’t falling all over themselves for a chance at signing Al Jefferson this off-season. Instead, team’s are mailing their cookie bouquets and max contracts at centers like Hassan Whiteside.
Whiteside may be a fresh face to most NBA fans, but the former second round pick is actually only a year younger than fellow high-flying 7-footer DeAndre Jordan. While DeAndre was serving as Lob City’s Secretary of Interior Defense, Hassan was bouncing around the D-League and international leagues everywhere from Lebanon to China. Which of the NBA’s 30 teams he’ll end up next season may be just as unpredictable as the 27 year old’s ascension:
Hassan was labeled as potential “problem personnel” coming out of Marshall, a label that caused him to plummet from a potential lottery pick into the second round:
“A number of teams reported to me that their interviews with Whiteside were rocky. I can understand why. In the 15 minutes or so I spent with him one-on-one he projected a confidence that bordered on naïve arrogance. He compared himself to everyone from Dwight Howard to Hakeem Olajuwon (with whom he spent a week training), complained about where I had him on my mock draft (#14 to the Rockets) and was insulted that our scouting report didn’t have more on his 3-point shooting ability.”
Chad Ford, ESPN
After landing on an equally dysfunctional Sacramento team, it became a tough label to scrub off. It may have taken half a decade, but Hassan developed into the type of talent that NBA franchises are dying to sign – which is exactly why it’s so difficult to pinpoint a landing spot for him.
With penetrating guards driving the offenses of most NBA team’s, a rim protector like Whiteside make’s interior scoring a nightmare. Whiteside could play a vital role on any NBA defense, making him an incredibly valuable commodity this offseason. His past might scare a few teams off, but between his ceiling and the rising cap, Whiteside will get multiple max-contract offers.
Will he play in Miami again next year? Pat Riley has made it clear what his intentions are:
“He’s obviously, I think, our No. 1 priority. Period. You don’t have to look further than that,” Riley said. “While there might be players out there in free agency, our No. 1 priority is Hassan Whiteside. He’s 26 years old. He’s a game changer. I don’t think he’s even reached his real ceiling in a couple areas of the game …”
We just don’t know what cap-space magic Pat Riley is capable of pulling out of his hat. With both Whiteside and Wade going into free-agency, and super-stars like Durant and – dare I say – LeBron, Whiteside’s return to South Beach will be just as unpredictable as he is.