When Hassan Whiteside left Sacramento during the past offseason in search of a new home, there were plenty of opportunities for the 7ft tall man.
But for Whiteside, he didn’t want to go to just any team. After playing for Miami, Portland and Sacramento for the past three seasons, he admitted he wanted to go to a team that not only had a chance to win a ring, but accepted it for who he was.
Now, just over a quarter into the season, and it looks like Whiteside has finally found his home – with the Utah Jazz.
“I never felt like I could show off what I can do in Sacramento,” said Whiteside. “It’s still one of those places where I always felt like I could never show Hassan Whiteside there. At this point in my career, I just want to win. … I felt Utah, with its style of play, was the perfect fit.
stay hydrated today everyone pic.twitter.com/ObF05cTDqQ
– Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) November 21, 2021
When Whiteside chose to sign with Utah, some media took his decision with skepticism.
After all, the Jazz already had a bona fide center in Rudy Gobert, a star and three-time defensive player of the year. Many believed Whiteside would want to go to a team where he could establish himself as a starter again – not to save the league’s top defensive player.
But because Utah uses Gobert as a central part of their offense and defense, Whiteside couldn’t think of a better team to join. He said he heard from Gobert almost immediately after signing with the team and then had an in-depth conversation with head coach Quin Snyder – a coach he always wanted to play for – on what he could expect this season.
“Hassan is in a great place,” Snyder said. “I’m really glad he’s here. I felt strongly when I spoke to him that we would be fine for him, and I think he feels it.
Throughout his search for a new team, Whiteside alluded to the fact that he wanted to go to a team with a veteran presence. After spending last year with the Kings, one of the youngest teams in the league, Whiteside was hoping to be part of an organization where he could better identify with his new teammates.
– Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) November 17, 2021
He found it in the snow capped mountains of West Mountain.
From group text messages to nightly team dinners and the video games they play together, Jazz has an authentic “family” atmosphere that Whiteside is a part of.
“It’s so cool how close this team is. … I’ve never been part of such a tight team, ”he said. “A lot of people say, ‘Hey, we’re a tight-knit team, hey, we’re doing it together.’ Nah. It’s really like a tight knit group. It’s good. I like it. “
That kind of comfort off the court translated into Whiteside playing on the court.
In 15.4 minutes per game, he is averaging 7.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks over the year. His net score of 12.8 ranks third on the team and 16th in the NBA for players coming off the bench.
“He’s been great for us so far,” said Gobert. “He’s really there. He was effective on both sides.
– Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) November 19, 2021
While these are sensational numbers over short stays, Whiteside’s main contribution has come from doing the little things. His passion, energy and physique are what kept Unit 2 getting even better – and that comes after having already secured the top two for the sixth man of the year award.
“Whenever you have a player who plays with passion, I mean that indicates that he cares about him and that that emotion and that energy can fuel a team,” Snyder said of Whiteside. “Anytime you add emotion to competitiveness, it’s rocket fuel.”
That passion and competitiveness helps make Utah the strongest team in the league, one that is expected to pay massive dividends in April, May and June. Until then, Whiteside will continue to do what he does, intending to bring Salt Lake City their first championship.
“Yeah, that would be cool to do that. … It would be cool to bring the city its first title. That’s what we play for, ”said Whiteside.
– Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) November 10, 2021