The San Antonio Spurs need to add another front court player. Tim Duncan appears to be on the verge of retirement, and even if he were to return, his skills are rapidly declining, particularly on offense. A center who’s available as a free agent who the Spurs should consider signing is Hassan Whiteside.
The numbers reveal Whiteside to be the premier rim protector in the NBA. He averaged 3.68 blocks per game, while nobody else in the league topped 2.30 blocks per game. The gap between him and the next best guy (DeAndre Jordan) is perhaps larger than any particular skill set in the NBA.
Whiteside is also an elite rebounder. Only 8 players had a higher offensive rebound percentage than Whiteside, and only 2 players had a higher defensive rebounding percentage than him. In terms of total rebound percentage, only Andre Drummond ranked higher than him last season.
Whiteside will be 27 at the start of next season, so any team that acquires him will be getting an elite interior player just as he enters the prime of his career.
Whiteside finished 3rd in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year, captivating observers all season with his athletic rim protection and fierce interior defense.
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With how he can impact a game on defense, any offensive contribution is a bonus, yet he still manages to put up impressive numbers. He averaged 14.2 points per game last season while shooting above 60% from the field.
He shoots about 41% on midrange jumpers, so there’s potential for him to continue to expand his range away from the paint. It’s not a necessity, though, because his inside scoring ability is extremely efficient.
He doesn’t have a wide array of post moves, but he utilizes his incredible athleticism to finish near the hoop. He had 519 shot attempts from the paint during the regular season and made nearly 66% of them. That’s an astounding rate.
Only DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard had higher field goal percentages last season than Whiteside, and Whiteside averaged more points per game than both of them.
Nobody doubts the remarkable talent Whiteside is. His biggest flaw has been some immaturity issues he’s had since entering the league. He can be a bit unstable, and teams will have to weigh whether his baggage is worth taking on.
The Spurs have the structure in place to be able to handle Whiteside’s unique personality. They are one of the most stable organizations in the league, and they’d arguably be the best team for a guy like Whiteside to go to.
The Spurs have a team-first approach, and they have the leadership within that locker room to corral Whiteside’s enigmatic tendencies.
They will likely have the cap space to offer a big-money deal to one free agent, and Whiteside is worthy of that investment.
Defense is the key to the Spurs’ success, and adding a player who’s perhaps the best interior defender currently in the league to replace a legend like Duncan would keep the Spurs as the best defensive unit in the NBA.
Whiteside is an elite center, and the Spurs have the money to try to bring him aboard. His talent is a great investment, and he’s worth the risk.