Remember when there were rumors that the Sacramento Kings were apparently open to selecting Hassan Whiteside with the fifth pick of the 2010 NBA Draft or possibly trading down to take the shot blocker? Yeah, me too. We’ll never know just how serious those rumors were (probably nothing to them) but the Kings eventually opted to draft Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins and had Hassan Whiteside amazingly fall into their lap with the 33rd pick. From a potential standpoint, it’s difficult to find a better draft for the Kings, but two years into Whiteside’s career we’ve seen little resemblance to the nation’s 2009 leading shot blocker.
Whiteside’s rookie year was all but non-existent, playing a lone NBA game in 2010-11, the first game of the season. Whiteside was eventually demoted to the Reno Bighorns, simply gain experience and floor time but he struggled during his Nevada tenure, eventually being recalled to sit on the Kings bench just over a month later after issues over playing time in Reno with former Kings coach, Eric Mussleman, became public.
Fast forward to the lockout shortened 2011-12 season where Whiteside was again optioned to Reno at the start of the season, but this time the former Marshall star did well in the World’s Biggest Little City, putting up 8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3 blocks in just 18 minutes a game. A month later and Hassan was back in Sacramento where he played mostly garbage minutes in 18 games, though Whiteside did get some mildly consistent playing time come April before he went down with a season ending injury.
Between March and April, the former Thundering Hurd played an average of 6 minutes a game, putting up 2 points, 2.5 rebounds along to go with a block. More then that though, you could see some of the growth Hassan made from his rookie year where he looked completely lost in the D-League to looking only mildly lost at the NBA level. Yes, there were obvious moments where Whiteside was clearly out of position, be it for a defensive stand or a rebound opportunity, but there were also moments where Whiteside looked like he has a solid rotational future in the NBA. Much credit goes to Kings big man coach Clifford Ray who did tremendous work with both Whiteside and Cousins in the short time he was in Sacramento this past year.
At only 22, there is still plenty of time to grow for Whiteside, but there’s still an amount of rawness to his game that will only be chiseled off with experience.
Season Grade: Incomplete