NBA rumors have been swirling around Hassan Whiteside all season long because he is in the final year of his contract with the Miami Heat. Many were under the assumption that Heat president Pat Riley was going to trade away his rising center. Nothing happened at the NBA trade deadline, but the belief is that Whiteside will be wearing a new uniform next season. According to Sports Illustrated Fansided, the Los Angeles Lakers are a highly probable destination.
Shortly into the regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers realized that the NBA playoffs were not an option. They realized that the season should have been about sending Kobe Bryant off properly into retirement and about developing the younger players. It’s hard to blame Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak for keeping his eye on the future. One of the big decisions that he will have to make is acquiring a new starting center.
When the Los Angeles Lakers sent a second round draft pick to the Indiana Pacers for Roy Hibbert, they knew that it was a temporary fix. Hibbert was supposed to be a starter for this season, while management sought a longer term solution. Hibbert isn’t a bad player. He’s just in need of a different environment. That’s why Mitch Kupchak made some calls in February to see if an NBA playoffs contender was interested in acquiring the former Georgetown Hoyas star.
Hassan Whiteside would be an upgrade over Roy Hibbert. Whiteside is much more athletic, so when D’Angelo Russell drives the lane, there are going to be many instances where he will have the option to heave up an alley oop to his soaring center. When it comes to shot blocking, Whiteside is superior to Hibbert as well, so the Los Angeles Lakers won’t be too decimated if the perimeter players are burnt by offensive players.
At this point in his young NBA career, Julius Randle is a sub par defender. Having a shot blocking center like Hassan Whiteside around would make it easier for Randle to be protected. The Los Angeles Lakers can also make adjustments where Whiteside is defending the better low post scorer, so that Randle can be placed on the non-scoring threat. In order for the Lakers to reach their full potential, though, Randle has to become at least an adequate defender so Whiteside can protect the other teammates.
If things go right for the Los Angeles Lakers, then D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson will be their starting guards for the next decade. Russell just turned 20 years old, while Clarkson is merely 23 and has room to improve. The combination has shown sparks of being able to dominate games on the offensive end, so Hassan Whiteside can benefit from the interior lanes being so open.
A core of Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Hassan Whiteside would enable the Los Angeles Lakers to be competitive in a couple of years. However, there’s more. There’s a very good chance that the Lakers get one of the top picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. With this particular lineup, the main need would be a small forward. Louisiana State University Tigers star Ben Simmons happens to be one of the best small forward prospects since LeBron James entered the NBA.
Los Angeles Lakers fans are used to splashier names when it comes to free agency. Many are dreaming of Kevin Durant leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder for southern California. Hassan Whiteside might be a more achievable dream for the team.
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