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Hassan Whiteside - RaptorsHQ Draft Prospect Preview #3

After looking at two prospects Franchise wouldn't mind to see in a Raptors' uniform next season, he turns to one he definitely hopes Bryan Colangelo and co. avoid...


"...he's quickly emerging as the top true center prospect in the draft. His upside is immense, with a potent combination of length, strength, and athleticism. He's very tough to stop once he gets the ball close to the basket, as he is very strong finisher. Using that potent combination of strength, size, and athleticism, he can power up and dunk where most post players would have to rely on a finesse move. There are 7-footers stronger and quicker than him, but very few that are both. He still has much work to do, both in the weight room and on the court, but the rate at which he has improved over the past two seasons is very encouraging. The light bulb is very clearly going on, and that is more than you can say about plenty of big men who never truly get it. He will need to continue to polish his offensive game, work on his conditioning and give more consistent effort, but all the pieces are there for him to develop into a very effective NBA big man within the next two years." - Draft

Can anyone guess which NBA prospect the previous blurb was written about?

Greg Oden?

Andrew Bynum?

Amar'e Stoudemire?

How about the Raptors' own Patrick O'Bryant.

Yes, back in 2006, Patrick O'Bryant emerged from nowhere to take the NBA Draft by storm, and ended up being the 9th pick in the draft.  His combination of length, athleticism, and dominant final college season had scouts buzzing and he became one of the ultimate upside picks.

We all know how the story turned out however.

He didn't make an impact with Golden State, the team that drafted him, and was nearly out of the league within 3 years had it not been for the Toronto Raptors move at the 2009 trade deadline, bringing him in for a look via the Boston Celtics.

Likely however, this was P.O.B.'s last chance and after a full season of pine-riding in TO, it looks like he'll have to peddle his wears in the D League or overseas.

So what happened?  Was this simply a case of GM's not doing their homework?  Did O'Bryant simply not put in the necessary work to round out his game?  Or was O'Bryant never really that great of a prospect, buoyed by playing against inferior competition in a mid-major at Bradley?

I'd say there was a combination of all factors involved, but most importantly, O'Bryant just didn't have the skillset to make it at the next level.  This became quite evident as I sat in a hot gym during the Vegas Summer League last year, watching P.O.B. getting dominated by players without his size, length, or "upside."  His lack of a developped post-game was scary, and to the chagrin of the Raptors' coaching staff in attendance, O'Bryant continuously settled for long-range jumpers instead of using his height advantage down low.

"He thinks he's freakin' Rasheed Wallace!" muttered one of the Raps' assistants at one point.

So why the P.O.B. discussion in the midst of a Hassan Whiteside draft prospect preview?  Because like O'Bryant, Whiteside to me has "buyer beware" written all over him as we approach this year's draft.  Let's take a closer look starting with the good...

There's no question Whiteside has upside.  In fact, he's a 7-footer with a 7 foot, 7 inches wingspan, and a solid 240 pound frame.  Last year with Marshall he averaged 13 points and 9 rebounds a game, hardly lottery pick numbers, however he also blocked 5.4 shots a match!  It's this stat that really stands out and if you've seen him play, it's his defensive capabilities that are extremely intriguing.  Remember, while offense comes and goes at the next level, time and time again we've seen things like rebounding and shot-blocking translate very well.  Therefore suddenly around the middle of last college season, Whiteside's name was popping up on mock draft boards across the net, and many saw him in the same mould as a young Tyson Chandler or Marcus Camby; players who while rail thin, could immediatley impact games thanks to their defense and athleticism.  He led the nation in blocked shots and was Conference USA's top freshman and defensive player of the year.

The problem is, no one really knows if the NBA team that drafts him will ever see these abilities on full display.  Whiteside was pulled from games last season for lack of effort, and even in the recent pre-draft interviews in Chicago, many draftniks noted his rather immature demeanor, not to mention some strange answers to questions from the media.  On the court there are many red flags as well, from his low basketball IQ (he was one of the worst passers statistically in all of the NCAA last year), to his lack of strength on the block, something that will be a major concern at the next level.

In summary there's no question some team will take a flyer on Whiteside.  His weak-side defense, shot-blocking, athleticism, and ability to defend the pick-and-roll, an NBA staple, are too enticing to pass up, but I'm hoping the Raptors look the other way.  There are very few cases of NBA draft prospects who emerge from nowhere mid-season, especially from smaller conferences, and go on to be dominant forces in the league, not to mention the Dinos have motivational issues with their current players so adding another big question mark in this department?  No thanks.  This pick to me screams "Patrick O'Bryant Part II" and I simply think there are much better options out there.

That being said, should Whiteside fall into the second round, he's definitely worth trying to get a pick and take a flyer on.  Perhaps dropping out of lottery range and the first round entirely will be the humbling and driving experience he needs and in the right situation, he could be a steal.

However right now, with his projected range being late lottery to about the 22nd pick in the first round, I'm staying away if I'm BC.

And I don't need to look at Patrick O'Bryant's final college season stats of 13 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks (eerily similar numbers to Whiteside) to convince me.