No one saw Hassan Whiteside coming this season. The 28-year-old has been an absolute steal for the Miami Heat in their transition from the LeBron James era, but he could’ve been a gem for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Apparently, Whiteside worked out for the Lakers before the 2014-15 NBA season, but the team chose to go with another player, via David Aldridge of NBA.com:
Whiteside then got a tryout with the Lakers, but didn’t get an invite to training camp. “They picked Wayne Ellington over me,” he says.
Although Ellington is having a decent season with the Lakers, and has come on strong since becoming a starter in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s season-ending injury, Whiteside is putting up ridiculous numbers in Miami.
In 28 games as a starter this season, Ellington is averaging 12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. The former Tar Heel is also shooting 41.2 percent from the floor and 33.6 from beyond the arc since taking over for Bryant.
As for Whiteside, since becoming a starter for the Heat he’s been averaging 13.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game while shooting 61 percent. Whiteside’s free-throw shooting is extremely poor at 59.3 percent as a starter, but he’s definitely proven his worth with incredible career-high numbers across the board.
One can only wonder how things might’ve been different had the Lakers rolled the dice on Whiteside this past summer. The thought of a frontcourt with Julius Randle playing alongside Whiteside with Ed Davis and Jordan Hill coming off the bench would’ve been something to get excited about.