By allowing several rotational players to fly the coop this summer, Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob and team president Bob Myers have sent a clear message to head coach Steve Kerr. Specifically, that the time has come to unleash the youngsters.
That’s a group that includes former No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman, whose fledgling career has been stunted by injury. Even as the club elected to bring back starting pivot man Kevon Looney, there’s little doubt that Kerr will give Wiseman every opportunity to get back into the swing of things.
As a result, though, the Dubs may find themselves at something of a deficit down low. For all his size and athleticism, it may take Wiseman some time to become a positive impact player. Meanwhile, Looney doesn’t provide the rim protection one would hope to see from a first-team center.
With all of that being the case, Golden State would probably do well to add a third big man to the mix; one with the defensive chops and experience to aid in next season’s title defense.
To that end, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley has an idea about who the Warriors should pursue to fill the role.
B/R: Former Blocks Champ Is Golden State’s Guy
For his latest foray into the frenzy that is the NBA offseason, Buckley sought to identify the one free agent that each of the league’s 30 teams “should sign.” As the hoops scribe sees it, going big is the obvious choice for Myers and Co.
“The Warriors secured stability at the center spot by bringing Kevon Looney back, but they still can’t feel great about their big-man rotation,” Buckley opined. “James Wiseman remains a massive question mark after losing the entire campaign to a meniscus tear, and Nemanja Bjelica is out of the equation after heading back to Europe.”
So, who was his pick to shore up the Warriors’ center position? None other than veteran Hassan Whiteside, who just spent the 2021-22 campaign backing up three-time DPOY Rudy Gobert.
He can provide all the size, boards, blocks and dunks they need while they give him a platform to help restore his market. He was mostly rock-solid as a reserve for the Jazz this past season, but Golden State’s spotlight could mean more to his future earnings potential.
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Whiteside Had a Strong Year on the Down Low
After rising to prominence with the Miami Heat, Whiteside has seen his place in the Association’s big-man hierarchy plummet in recent years. Nevertheless, he was low-key ultra-effective in a support role with Utah last season.
Per 36 minutes, the 33-year-old averaged 16.5 points, 15.3 rebounds and a whopping 3.2 blocks. Defensively, he looked every bit the part of a two-time blocks champ and one-time All-Defensive pick. Meanwhile, he also connected on a career-best 65.2% of his shot attempts.
However, some of the advanced metrics paint an even rosier portrait of what he was able to accomplish.
On a Jazz team that finished the regular season with a top-three point differential league-wide (outscoring opponents by 6.2 points per 100 possessions), Whiteside actually had the best net rating on the squad at 10.1. And his offensive rating of 119.2 was the No. 1 mark league-wide among players seeing action in 40-plus games.