1. Hassan Whiteside
Hassan Whiteside is my top target for the Los Angeles Lakers to try and acquire.
In filling in for an injured Jusuf Nurkic last season, Whiteside put up huge numbers for the Portland Trailblazers, with averages of 15.5 PPG, 13.5 RPG, and a league-leading 2.9 BPG.
Despite those outstanding numbers, Whiteside is one of those players whom front offices aren’t enamored with, as evidenced by:
- Having to settle for the veteran’s minimum in signing with the Sacramento Kings, and;
- Barely being in the rotation, averaging 14 MPG in a backup role behind Richaun Holmes.
Furthermore, the Kings have been known to give young prospect Marvin Bagley some minutes at the center position the past few years. As the team falls further and further out of playoff contention, there’s going to be little incentive to give Whiteside meaningful minutes.
However, he’d be the perfect fit as a Laker. Whiteside’s reputation as a poor defender is largely unfounded. In 2019-20, he graded as elite for most advanced defensive metrics according to BBall Index, including in the 96th percentile for my favorite stat (Defensive PIPM).
I envision Whiteside as a perfect fit for last season’s Dwight Howard role. Whiteside wouldn’t need to see significant minutes in most matchups – against smaller teams, he’d most likely be a DNP-CD or receive trivial court-time. However, against teams with a plethora of big bodies, having a rim-protecting 7-footer would be an amazing asset to have.
I’m not particularly concerned about character concerns, due to LeBron James’ presence on the Lakers. LeBron has forged a reputation as an incredible leader, and I’d like to think that he’d play a role in keeping Whiteside in check.
It likely wouldn’t take much to get Sacramento to part with Whiteside, and at his price-point, why not roll the dice?