The Dallas Mavericks need a young star player to build around and free agent center Hassan Whiteside may be the perfect choice.
The Dallas Mavericks enter free agency with cash on hand and roster spots available. Point guard, small forward, center, and really even Dirk Nowitzki’s starting power forward spot are up for grabs. The free agent options are virtually limitless. But if the Mavs are smart, they’ll make Hassan Whiteside their top target this summer.
Hassan Whiteside, free agent center from Miami, is a superstar in every sense of the word. Averaging a double-double in each of the past two offseasons, Whiteside is both an elite rim protector and a rebounder – two areas the Dallas Mavericks have struggled with post-Tyson Chandler.
Last season’s starter, Zaza Pachulia, was certainly a nice Band-Aid, averaging 10.7 rebounds and 10.0 points before the All-Star break. But his numbers crashed back to earth when he only tallied 7.0 boards and 5.8 points per game post-break.
The Dallas Mavericks are clearly in the market for a starting center and Hassan Whiteside represents the best the NBA has to offer.
Let it be known, Hassan Whiteside does come with some baggage. He’s not exceptionally easy to get along with and has some maturity issues that should be managed. But don’t let this baggage allow you to think he won’t be receiving max offers. You see, players like Whiteside don’t come along very often. Heck, in some regards players like him have never come along before.
As Jared Dubin pointed out for Vice Sports earlier this spring, Hassan Whiteside was averaging at least 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. While an impressive list of Hall of Famers have been able to accomplish this task at various points in their careers, none have done so playing less than 30-minutes per game. Not ever.
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By the end of the 2015-2016 campaign, Hassan Whiteside posted 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks in just under 29.2 minutes per game. As his rising career numbers indicate, the more minutes he receives, the more output he delivers. So while he’s producing at a Hall of Fame clip now, he could actually improve if given increased opportunities.
Hall of Fame prognostications are obviously absurd at this point, but the numbers don’t lie and you can bet the entire league has taken notice.
Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Ratings has Whiteside listed as the #2 center in the NBA (25.69 PER score) and the #8 overall player in the NBA. Better yet, his 16.0 Estimated Wins Averaged place him in the top spot among his center peers.
269 blocked shots in the 2015-2016 season. That’s 269 shot attempts that Hassan Whiteside never gave a chance to. Majority of those were high percentage shots from in the paint. Never given a chance. Even if you think blocked shots are overrated, 269 blocked shots is a pretty significant impact and cannot be taken lightly.
The Dallas Mavericks struggle with rebounds, both offensively and defensively. Second chance points kill you in this league and all-too-often were the culprit in some significant losses last season. In the same way, offensive boards can turn the tide for a team. Hassan Whiteside is among the best (if not the best) in the NBA on the glass.
Like DeAndre Jordan, Hassan Whiteside is a fantastic pairing for Dirk Nowtizki. Whiteside is everything Dirk is not (in a good way) and complements the Dallas Mavericks roster. He’s a physical presence close to the basket at both ends of the court, while Dirk prefers more spacing. He can play the pick and roll both offensively and defensively. He moves well and understands team defense.
He doesn’t require plays run for him offensively and largely creates his own opportunities throughout a game. Add to that, Whiteside appears to actually want a superstar role and won’t flake out when feeling the slightest bit of pressure
(sorry DeAndre, you weren’t going to escape this article unscathed).
Hassan’s free throw percentage has been significantly on the rise as have nearly every portion of his game. He’s a player on the rise who’s just entering his prime.
Hassan Whiteside’s distractors will point to his limitations. And admittedly there are clear limitations to his game. Whiteside’s outside shooting leaves something to be desired, his free throw shooting is pedestrian, and his shot-blocking is at times overeager. Even though these are legitimate gripes, they are widely overblown.
Free Throw Shooting
Hassan Whiteside’s career free throw shooting percentage is a paltry .598 but DeAndre Jordon he is not. Digging deeper, steady improvement can be seen in his free throw shooting. In year one he posted .417. In year two he improved to .500. And last year he landed a .650. Furthermore, after the All-Star break, Whiteside shot a very respectable 75% from the line.
As with most elite shot-blockers, Hassan Whiteside can be a little overeager to defend the rim. Multiple times, Hassan attacked the ball, prematurely left his man (and/or responsibility) and gave up the easy backdoor dump-off.
It’s safe to say Rick Carlisle would take slight issue with this but don’t overblow the issue either. Analysists and Analytics as a whole, have been devaluing the power of the blocked shot for years, but that may soon change.
Sometimes it’s not about the shots that are blocked, but it’s the shots that are never taken for fear of the block. Players act differently when there is a presence in the paint. No one wants to be on the wrong end of a SportCenter highlight and if that means spotting up for a lower percentage shot on the outside vs risk getting blocked on a drive to the pain – so be it.
Detering penetration is something easy to understand but hard to track. Luckily the guys at FanSided did some of the relevant the work for us and tracked Contested Percentage. And with a 41.2 contested percentage, Whiteside is number one in the NBA.
There are many great players available in free agency but Hassan Whiteside appears to have the best upside of anyone not named Kevin Durant.
Whether Miami makes him a max offer or not remains to be seen, but regardless, the Dallas Mavericks need to make Hassan Whiteside their top target this offseason.