TheRookieWall.com continues its “Who Ya Got?” column with a look at Ekpe Udoh of Baylor and Hassan Whiteside of Marshall.
Here, two of our writers each took a player and made his case for that particular player.
The conversation doesn’t end with our opinions though, so in the comments let us know: Who Ya Got?
The Case for Ekpe Udoh —Forward-Center | 6'10" | 237 lbs
Ekpe Udoh entered this season for the most part off the radar. That changed over the course of the year, as he turned heads with his athletic abilities and solid play. Now he is almost surely a lock for the lottery in this year’s draft and could very likely be in the Top 10.
There are very few in the NBA who can offer Udoh’s type of skill set. The big man out of Baylor is both very long and athletic. At 6'10" Ekpe considers himself more of a 4 than a 5. He is very versatile on the offensive end and definitely has the athleticism to play the 4. He prefers to play off the elbow and take defenders off the dribble but has shown the potential for a solid low post game.
Even though he considers himself to be a power forward, Udoh definitely blocks with the ability of a center. Exhibiting proper timing and strength down low, Ekpe averaged nearly four blocks a game last year in the Big 12. His athleticism not only helps him with blocking shots but also in transition and hedging off screens. Udoh usually doesn’t have trouble cutting off guards in pick and roll situations. Any team looking for length and shot blocking would happily take the services he could provide.
Hassan Whiteside arguably has the biggest upside in this year’s draft, but that also means he’s the biggest project. He played in a weaker conference than Ekpe and the other bigs in this year’s draft. While that doesn’t necessarily prove anything, his stats did seem to take a hit when he faced more quality opponents.
Udoh also has shown more ability to work within an offense while Whiteside can be a black hole once he gets the ball. Ekpe has proven to be a good facilitator and passer off the dribble and also has good scoring ability. They both have very similar games in terms of shot blocking and more face-up offensive styles, but I think Ekpe is more of a sure thing.
Ekpe could go anywhere from No. 7 to No. 13. Teams are usually always in need of length and size down low, and there is no shortage of those players in this year’s Top 10. We currently have him going to the Detroit Pistons, who should be trying to get back to their defensive roots. Udoh would be a great place to start for them.
Utah is badly in need of a long, shot-blocking presence in the middle. It has been a common theme in all of its playoff exits to the Lakers these last three seasons. It could be interested in him at pick No. 9.
We’ve heard from multiple sources that Udoh has a guarantee from Toronto at No. 13, but we think he has a great chance of going even higher.
The Case for Hassan Whiteside —Forward-Center | 7'0" | 227 lbs
Hassan Whiteside has somehow found himself in a sort of free fall right now. The writers on this site truly can't understand what there is to dislike about him as a player and as a person. Yes, he comes off as shy and reserved in interviews, but, like most 20 year olds, he probably isn't completely sure of the person he is just yet. Being thrust in front of a firing squad of media looking for a juicy quote isn't the easiest way to grow up, so cut the kid some slack.
From a talent standpoint there isn't a whole lot more that teams can expect from Whiteside. He measured out at a legitimate 7'0" and posted the longest wingspan at the combine at 7'6". This long frame is not definitive of success, but it certainly gives him the tools to be a difference-maker in the NBA, just like he was at Marshall. Let's not forget that Whiteside led college basketball in blocks as a freshman, averaging over five per game.
Defensively, he's the most intriguing prospect in the draft. Offensively, Whiteside may be a few years away from truly contributing, but that shouldn't give pause to teams. When compared to other freshman his post game isn't as evolved, but according to the statistics he scored on a high percentage of his touches in the post. Additionally, he possesses the ability to step out to 18 feet and knock it down from the outside. His passing needs work, but that will come with more repetitions in any offense.
He and Ekpe Udoh offer two different sides of the draft coin. Whiteside is a high risk offering a huge reward if he pans out. Udoh offers less risk and less reward, but there's no reason to think his development is capped. One thing that people are holding against him is his age, and while Udoh is older than others in this draft, it doesn't mean he's capped as a player.
Where Hassan has the edge on Udoh is in their outside scoring and shooting. Udoh can knock it down in the midrange, just not with the consistency or range that Whiteside possesses. The two have seen each other repeatedly in workouts, so they are familiar with each others' games.
When it comes to draft ranges Whiteside's is incredibly polarized. He recently had a second workout with the Sacramento Kings, where he is a dark horse at five, and would likely go to them in a trade down situation. Any team in the lottery is in play, but the teams where his odds are greatest would be the Pacers, Hornets, and Raptors.
For us at TheRookieWall we can't see him falling below the Timberwolves with the No. 16 overall pick. At that point his upside far outweighs his risk, and with an established frontcourt the Wolves can take the time to develop him.
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