2010 NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Hassan Whiteside

Editor's Note, by rook6980: This is the 16th installment in a series of regular postings on draft prospects.  This series will take a look at the top draft prospects for the 2010 NBA Draft in June. The plan is to have one or two a week, leading up to a flurry of activity the week of the draft. My DVR is crammed full of college games, and I'm watching and writing as fast as I can.

Hassan Whiteside

PF/C
20 Years Old
7' 0" ; 235 lbs
Marshall, Freshman

Hassan Whiteside comes from an athletic family. His father, Hassan Arbubakrr, played in the NFL for the Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a 6'4", 270 pound defensive end. Whiteside was a 6-foot, 150-pound all-state wrestler before he started an 18 month growth spurt that all but cemented his athletic future. As a 6'10" high school junior, he decided to play basketball.

Whiteside committed to Marshall early in the recruiting process - and even after the big schools came calling (Kentucky, Louisville, Xavier, South Carolina, UConn, Memphis, Seton Hall, etc) he decided to stick with Marshall. He thought he could make a difference there. He has grown two inches since he committed to Marshall, and is now a legitimate 7-footer, and still growing. His game has grown as well.

Standing 7’0" and weighing 235 lbs with a 7’6" wingspan and a broad frame, Whiteside has the physical tools to be a big-time NBA center. His athletic toolbox contains some impressive goodies as well. He's an explosive leaper and runs the floor like a guard. He's extremely quick for a big man and has excellent coordination. He's fluid and smooth in his movements. He's got huge, soft hands, and is able to catch just about everything thrown his way.

Whiteside is an extremely raw offensive prospect. He has some very basic post moves, including a nice hook shot; but mostly he scores by dunking either in transition or by establishing deep position. He's a very aggressive offensive player, and that is both an advantage and a curse. As an advantage, he is constantly looking to attack the basket; unfortunately, once he has the ball, he rarely gives it up again. He has real difficulties with double-teams, preferring to put up an awkward shot rather than pass the ball out.

He has had some impressive outings this year, including three triple-doubles. He had a poor game against UNC's talented front line of Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller - as he was held to seven points (on 3 of 8 shooting), only four rebounds and three blocks while being abused on defense. Then I watched both of the games against Tulsa where Whiteside was matched up against NBA draft prospect big man Jerome Jordan. In the first game, Jordan got the best of the match up, but Whiteside looked like he learned something from that encounter and came back with a dominating effort against Jordan in the second game. He showed some new offensive moves, including a drop step, and even hit a couple of outside jump shots.  Then he had a very good game against draft prospect Derrick Caracter to the tune of 20 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks in a loss to UTEP.  Shortly after his third triple-double of the season on February 27th, Whiteside started showing up on mock drafts, and his stock has been going up ever since.

He's got very good touch around the basket, and he gets terrific extension around the rim. He will try to dunk just about everything he catches within five feet of the rim. He has apparently worked very hard on his shooting mechanics - as his free throw shooting has improved dramatically this season. After the first eight games, he was shooting a horrid 35%, but he worked hard and shot over 65% for the rest of the year. The improvement in his shot from earlier in the year is startling. He now shoots his mid-range jump shot with fluidity and confidence. He squares his body to the basket, goes up with solid mechanics and has a nice high release point. The improvement in this area bodes well for a potential pick-and-pop game. I was most surprised by this aspect of his game, not expecting to see much in the way of an outside game. He must continue to work on his fundamentals, footwork and basic post moves; but as long as he continues to hone his mid-range jumper, he has the foundation of an offensive framework to work from.

On defense, Whiteside is one of the best shot-blockers in the country. He uses his extremely long frame and impressive jumping ability to block a ton of shots and alter many, many more. He blocked a ridiculous 8.2 shots (per 40 minutes) this year.  Although still young, he has a natural instinct and timing for shot blocking. Because of his physical gifts, he can wait until the opponent actually commits, before jumping to swat the shot. Because of his length, he sometimes doesn't even need to leave his feet to block a shot. He sometimes gives up position because he lacks the strength to keep his opponent from pushing him around; but he can still affect the shot. He is a game changer on the defensive end.

Whiteside is a surprisingly good defensive rebounder. I say that because I was expecting to see him just using his physical and athletic gifts to grab rebounds - but what I saw instead was a very aggressive, fundamentally sound rebounder. He is a very physical rebounder. He seeks out someone to put a body on. He establishes good inside position, blocks out his opponent and explodes to the ball. He is so quick, that he gathers in a lot of rebounds outside his immediate area. He is just as aggressive on the offensive glass; throwing his body around and using his long frame to grab rebounds that other players just cannot reach. For those reasons, he's a very productive rebounder (13.6 rebounds per 40).

Hassan Whiteside's size, length, athleticism and aggressiveness are all attributes that will make him an asset on defense in the NBA. Shot blocking and rebounding are two talents that translate well from college to the NBA, and if Whiteside can add some strength to his 7-foot frame, he could be a defensive game changer at the next level.

Strengths: 

  • Great size for position
  • May still be growing
  • Broad frame (can add bulk)
  • Huge wingspan (7'6")
  • Excellent foot speed
  • Fluid, coordinated and agile
  • Explosive leaper 
  • Very quick for a big man 
  • A terror in the paint on defense
  • Imposing defensive presence
  • Shot blocking. Shot altering. 
  • Excellent rebounder 
  • Developing post skills
  • Aggressive
  • Huge upside

Weaknesses

  • Needs to get stronger
  • Dribbles too much
  • Offensive game is still raw 
  • Needs a consistent mid-range jump shot 
  • Difficulty handling double-teams
  • Maturity, basketball IQ 
  • Older than the rest of his class

Whiteside needs another year in college, but the lure of a guaranteed contract worth millions will most likely be too much to ignore. He has a very intriguing combination of physical attributes and athletic abilities that will no doubt interest GM's around the league. He sould be able to lean on his defensive abilities and shot blocking to get by while he is developing his budding offensive game.

Previous Draft Profiles:

John Wall PG 6-4 195 Fr Kentucky Declared for the NBA Draft.
Evan Turner SG 6-7 217 Jr. Ohio St Declared for the NBA Draft.
Wesley Johnson SF 6-7 205 Jr. Syracuse Declared for the NBA Draft.
Derrick Favors PF 6-9 246 Fr. Ga. Tech Declared for the NBA Draft.
DeMarcus Cousins C 6-11 280 Fr. Kentucky Declared for the NBA Draft.
Al-Farouq Aminu F 6-8 218 Soph. Wake Forest Declared for the NBA Draft
Cole Aldrich C 6-11 245 Jr. Kansas Declared for the NBA Draft
Greg Monroe C 6-10 247 Soph. Georgetown Declared for the NBA Draft
Patrick Patterson F 6-8 235 Jr. Kentucky Declared for the NBA Draft.
Ed Davis F 6-10 225 Soph. North Carolina Declared for the NBA Draft.
Hassan Whiteside  C 7-0 235 Fr. Marshall Declared for the NBA Draft
Xavier Henry
SG 6-6 220 Fr. Kansas Declared for the NBA Draft.
Larry Sanders PF 6-10 220 Jr. VCU Declared for the NBA Draft.
Ekpe Udoh PF/C 6-10 240 Jr. Baylor Declared for the NBA Draft.
Stanley Robinson SF 6-8 220 Sr. UConn Senior - Eligible for the Draft
James Anderson SG 6-6 195 Jr. Oklahoma St. Declared for the NBA Draft.
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