I was really intrigued by the report Aykis posted on Tuesday after attending the King's big man workouts. Namely, the glowing words about Hassan Whiteside.
According to Aykis, Whiteside was:
"...by far the most impressive..."
of the big men that the home team worked out last week.
The 20 year old from Marshall scares a lot of us here because he's raw as hamachi and has basically zero track record outside of that lone season in Conference USA. In November of 2008 the kid wasn't even a blip on the radar of any of the high school player rankings. 18 months later, he began to look like a sure fire NBA lottery pick.
So sure, that kind of rocket ride out of obscurity is bound to cause some vertigo to us observors in the peanut gallery. I've seen warnings here that Whiteside is a Thabeet clone, D-League fodder, a bust in the making.
But me, I'm starting to think that he might be Jerry Reynolds "secret sleeper". In any case I think there's little doubt that the Kings are looking at Whiteside long and hard. Care to kick around the topic below the jump?
The reason Hassan Whiteside has blown up so quickly has to do with the crazy disparity between his rare physical gifts and the fact that he's only been playing organized hoops since he was a sophomore in high school. The kid could use more seasoning, of that there can be no doubt. But by the same token, so could Favors, Cousins, Aminu, Orton, and probably most of the other lottery picks. And it's very debatable as to just how much Whiteside could or would improve playing another season at Marshall anyway.
In any case, the reality is Whiteside is going to be in the NBA next year and we ignore the following facts at our own risk:
* He measured just under 7'0" tall (in flip flops!) with an outrageous 7'7" wingspan.
* We know about the shot blocking skill: 8.2 rejections per 40 minutes! So with that truly pterodactyl-like length and his quickness Whiteside could probably step in and immediately improve the Kings defense, even as a rookie. Anybody else here think that should be a priority?
* Let's talk about offense. Those same physical qualities (wingspan, agility) also made him very tough to defend if he gets the ball anywhere near the basket, *and* he already has an effective jump shot. Can the young man knock it down like 'Sheed in his heydey? No. But the "Thabeeeeeet!!" comparisons aren't anywhere in the ballpark either. After a mere five years playing the game seriously, Whiteside does have a semblance of an outside game, with a nice stroke and a very good-looking arc on his shot. He's been working out privately with his "mentor" Hakeem Olajawon for weeks now, concentrating on his offensive game and footwork.
* He's got above average athleticism even at the NBA level, he's very active, and he can run the floor.
* Whiteside added 25 pounds on his frame between his senior year at high school and the end of his freshman year at Marshall. That puts him at 235 lbs., and in NBA pre-draft measurements his bench press numbers (12 reps) were actually pretty decent... more than Aldrich or Udoh. And considerably more than Brook Lopez, LaMarcus Aldridge, and (yes, you guessed it) SHawes posted as rookies.
So even though he still needs to add weight and strength, this isn't some 90 lb. weakling here. In one interview I saw Whiteside estimated his best playing weight to be around 250. With NBA trainers and facilities he could be at that weight or close to it by next summer.
* I've watched three of his interviews and in every one, when asked what facets of his game he needs to improve Whiteside readily answers: "...everything", with emphasis on adding strength in the weight room. I think this is a very positive sign. His attitude seems really good to me, and in the clips I've watched he plays with some fire in the belly.
* Much like Tyreke last year, no other player has exploded up draft boards quite like Whiteside has, and his momentum should carry as he apparently delivered the goods in front of Petrie, Reynolds, Westphal and co. If he continues to impress in workouts we're looking at a definite Top 10 pick, and I have a feeling the Kings would seriously consider taking him at #5.
To me, the thought of Hassan Whiteside passing muster for Geoff Petrie is kind of an exciting possibility.