Hassan Whiteside blocked a million shots this season. Okay so that's hyperbole, but only a little. He actually blocked 269 shots. No biggie.
The 27-year-old center is a strong approximation of everything the Mavs believed they were getting before DeAndre Jordan very publicly changed his dumb mind last offseason. Similar to another free agent we all want to see on the Mavs (*cough* Kent Bazemore *cough*), Whiteside is a guy who had an extremely uneventful first few years with the NBA before blossoming into a hugely valuable player in Miami. He played a few minutes a game in two seasons with Sacramento before bouncing around between the D-League, Lebanon, and China for a couple of years. Then he signed with the Heat and promptly started blocking everything.
Whiteside always had mouth-watering physical attributes -- dude is a 7-footer with a 7'7 wingspan! But in the past couple of years, he has really developed his skillset and basketball knowledge. Just look at his stats: he has averaged a double-double the past two seasons, while also finishing number 2 and then number 1 in blocks per game. In short, he's basically the perfect center to pair with Dirk. But holy hell, he's gonna be expensive.
Fit with the Mavs
Well I just told you, didn't I? If he signed in Dallas, Hassan would instantly be competing with Tyson Chandler for the title of best frontcourt partner Dirk has ever had. I honestly believe that Hassan Whiteside would be the biggest free agent acquisition Dallas has ever pulled in.
Seriously. We all know what the missing piece to the Mavs starting lineup has been since 2011: a defensive, rim-running center. The Mavs run a fun flow offense that makes good use of the space that Dirk creates, and the ball movement and pick and rolls could open Whiteside up for a good number of Brandan Wright-esque dunks. On the other end, he will instantly make up for the complete lack of defense that is Dirk, allowing wing defenders like Wes Matthews, Chandler Parsons, and Justin Anderson focus in without worrying about a revolving door to the basket.
Oh yeah and hey, what's the thing Dallas is bad at every year? Oh yeah... rebounding. Whiteside averaged 12 of those a game last season. And I wouldn't be surprised if his presence at the rim and ability to use his statue-esque physique to block out against all of the NBA's biggest centers leads to more rebounds for his teammates as well.
Now to be fair, he is at times undisciplined. He will gamble on defense against smart driving guards, leaving his man open for an easy dunk or layup. But he is slowly improving on this, and working with a mastermind like Rick Carlisle will only help that progress. The biggest concern is his overall mentality: will he stop working as hard as he has after getting paid big money? Will he start taking it all for granted?
Hassan Whiteside's on-court fit is more or less perfect for the Mavs. But are they perfect for him?
So let's be completely honest here: Hassan Whiteside is competing with Al Horford as the most sought after free agent not named Kevin Durant. There are a lot of teams who will offer Whiteside the max. But I will be pretty surprised if Dallas isn't one of them. And no, not only because Mark Cuban recently followed Hassan on Twitter.
All the reasons that DeAndre made sense last offseason apply to Hassan this offseason. First priority is bringing Parsons back into the fold, to then use him again as the free agency hype man. Parsons is 27. Wes Matthews is 29. Hassan Whiteside is 27. This is your "big 3" core to lead the Mavs into the post-Dirk era. And you can bet your ass that's how Cuban will sell it to Whiteside. If Whiteside wants to be a star while also learning under a mastermind coach and playing with two talented co-stars, Dallas is the best fit for him.
I don't want to get anyone's hopes up, though. We've been burned before. A lot of rumors indicate that while Whiteside wants the max, he would also like to return to Miami. Big markets like Los Angeles and Boston are going to take their shots at him too.
TL;DR - hold onto your butts, and hope that Cuban makes the best pitch of his life this offseason.
Hassan Whiteside triple-double game against Charlotte:
All the dunks: