Houston Rockets DeMarcus Cousins replacement #1: Hassan Whiteside
The Rockets said they wanted to get younger and smaller but why not go and get one of the best available centers. Hassan Whiteside has been an afterthought this season in Sacramento but just last season he was one of the league’s best traditional centers.
Last season for the Portland Trail Blazers, Whiteside averaged 15.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game on 62.1-percent shooting. Even in a league that has drifted away from traditional centers those numbers pop off the page.
When Whiteside entered free agency he found a frosty market and had to settle on a one-year deal worth $2.3 million with the Sacramento Kings, which is exactly how much DeMarcus Cousins signed for. The Rockets should make a low-cost move for Whiteside and see if they can’t recapture some of the magic he had last season.
Does Whiteside fit perfectly into what the Rockets are trying to do? No, but he is an excellent rim runner, rebounder, and interior defender. He’s not being brought in to play 35 minutes a game, all he needs to do is give the Rockets 15 to 20 quality minutes a night.
Christian Wood has been a force this season but adding a frontcourt player with a different skill set could allow the Rockets to play the match-up game. One of the reasons Cousins flopped in Houston was that he struggled as a roll man in the pick and roll but that’s an area where Whiteside has excelled throughout his career.
Whiteside’s potential is greater than any other player who will be available at a reasonable price. He might not fit entirely into what the Rockets are looking for but he raises their ceiling like no other player can.