Hassan Whiteside, on paper, is one of the best fits for the Los Angeles Lakers this summer. We've gone over it in-depth already in preparation for what will reportedly be an "aggressive pursuit" to put Whiteside in a purple and gold jersey, while the free agent big man has gone on record saying he wants to make a decision on July 1.
There might be questions about his character and his defensive lapses, but there’s no question he’s worth every penny to the Lakers because of his ability to crush defenses inside.
Whiteside is an elite finisher as a roll man in pick-and-rolls that would complement D’Angelo Russell perfectly. Russell should thrive out of the pick-and-roll, and finding a long-time partner for him to work with is a necessity for the Lakers. Whiteside leads the pack in free agent big men the Lakers could target this summer in points per possession as a pick-and-roll roll man, and his 70 percent field goal percentage is bananas:
Timofey Mozgov and Bismack Biyombo have relatively smaller sample sizes to pull from, but it’s interesting to see that they still put up solid numbers when they do roll to the rim. Al Horford’s field goal percentage is likely skewed because he not only had the most possessions as a roll man out of the group, but also spreads the floor after the catch.
Whiteside is a wrecking ball rolling to the rim, and that kind of prowess is what can make D’Angelo a dynamic threat. To get a better idea as to what that combo might look like, I went through every assist from Goran Dragic to Hassan from the ‘15-’16 season. What stood out the most was how he uses his massive wingspan to pluck anything out of the sky before sending it crashing through the hoop like a meteor.
Feast upon it:
Imagining the D’Lo/Whiteside two-man game makes it obvious why this is the kind of pairing many Lakers fans are pulling for. Hassan may have some cons to his profile, but that kind of dynamic duo working the pick-and-roll is something the front office has to consider.
Another notable part of his game is his ability to step out to mid-range, if only in small doses. Dragic was able to use Hassan as a release valve around the 15’ zone and he can hit that shot when the defense disrespects him. That’s important to take into consideration when thinking about the other young player who’ll feel an immediate impact next to him in Julius Randle.
A peek at Whiteside’s shot chart via Shot Analytics confirms as much. In a small sample size he can serve as an effective shooter outside of the painted area. Randle remains far from a viable threat from those parts of the floor, but Whiteside at least needing to be acknowledged from around the perimeter should help with creating some additional space in the frontcourt rotation.
And here are a few Dragic-Whiteside mid-range sequences:
Whiteside’s true value is in how he converts around the rim, though. He’s an elite finisher, and after watching D’Angelo Russell’s soul wither while Roy Hibbert bobbled passes and fell all over the court, it’d be a sight for sore eyes to watch that kind of chaos raining down on opponents rather than Ryan Kelly.
Whiteside’s good at finishing around and through traffic once he gets the ball down low as well:
The Lakers should be itching to meet with Whiteside, who could be the most explosive inside threat the franchise has seen in quite some time. Russell would benefit immensely from having a thunderous pillar to summon pick-and-roll destruction around, and there’d finally be an answer to what comes next at center for the franchise.
It’s fair to question his offensive versatility, defensive lapses and attitude problems. Whiteside’s going to fetch a maximum-level contract no matter where he signs, and if it’s the Lakers, they’d find themselves a dominant inside presence finishing off endless lobs from D’Angelo on a nightly basis.
That could be worth the price of admission alone.