It’s fun to compare players no matter who they are, and Hassan Whiteside and DeAndre Jordan seem to be comparable players. Or, are they?
According to Walter Villa of the Miami Herald, Whiteside strongly denied that he and Jordan are similar players. “No. He catches lobs. I shoot jumpers, catch lobs, block shots. I do a lot. He just catches lobs.”
Jordan made the All-NBA First Team last season over the likes of Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, James Harden, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson — I think I’ll stop there. It was his second All-NBA selection, but you can’t refute Whiteside’s comments. It’s okay to look at them as similar players because of their position and size.
Jordan (28 y/o) and Whiteside (27 y/o) are 6-11 and seven-foot, respectively, play center and anchor their teams defensively. Beyond that, they’re different. And the situations dictate it.
Through the first quarter of the NBA season, Whiteside has the edge in points, rebounds, blocked shots and defensive rating, with Jordan’s advantage coming with his field goal percentage.
Also, both are “hack-a-player” candidates, so there’s another similarity.
It’s also important to note they play similar minutes, with Whiteside averaging 33.3 to Jordan’s 31.5.
Just by looking at the numbers, you can tell Whiteside’s role is far more pronounced since the Heat have no other first option. The Clippers have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and most of the time Jordan is the bailout guy out of the pick-and-roll.
An even more telling stat is usage rate, where Whiteside ranks fifth among centers who play at least 20 minutes a night. Jordan drops to 18 out of a possible 25. The difference is nearly ten percentage points, 24 to 14.9. DJ isn’t a center who the Clippers can run the offense through, and it’s quite possible that Chris Paul is the reason he’s a borderline All-Star and All-NBA player. That inference isn’t a stretch, and Whiteside alluded to it during his interview with the Herald.
Saying “[Jordan] just catches lobs” isn’t far from the truth, but we know that.
In this instance, Whiteside is correct. He does do more than Jordan, but it’s by default. His development has been impressive, and a comparison between these two would’ve made more sense in previous years. Since he has to bear the burden of the franchise, Whiteside has refined his post game and added a jump shot and, actually, catching lobs isn’t even a big part of his game.
Saying that Whiteside is a better center isn’t a knock on Jordan. If anything, it’s a luxury that the Clippers are in a position where they don’t need him to be a primary option on offense. He has his job and does them effectively.
Who knows, if DJ were with a different team he might have totally changed how he plays. The same is true with Whiteside; if he were with a contender, would he have to carry as much?
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