|So does Shayne Whittington.|Shayne Whittington
, Western Michigan, Senior, 6'11 245lbs2013/14 stats:
31.8 mpg, 16.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 1.1 apg, 0.8 spg, 2.4 fpg, 1.9 TOpg, 52.7% FG, 77.0% FT, 18.2% 3PT
There is a lot to like about Whittington's stat-line above, the only blip on it being the 6-33 three point shooting. Nevertheless, despite that blot on the copybook, and despite hitting only two three pointers in his entire collegiate career prior to this season, Whittington has taken his post-draft workouts and the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament and used them to demonstrate a white hot outside shooting stroke he managed to pretty much conceal for the entirety of his Broncos career. In doing so, he has earned himself some money.
It was not entirely a mystery that Whittington could shoot. The mid-range jumpshot has long since been a big part of his game, and adding the range is a logical extension of that. It does however do wonders for Whittington's pro prospects - without extra level athleticism or all that much strength, it was something he needed to do to reform his game, which figures not to translate all that well to the highest levels.
Fluid but not explosive, tall but not long, and hardy without being strong, Whittington is slightly short of ideal centre size and without the physical tools to mask it. He has a good frame, yet it is not all that muscular of one, and as much as he tries to body up, he has not the strength to be a great force in the post on either end. That said, Whittington sports a versatile skillset and high IQ game that, worrying defensive projection notwithstanding, make him a [very] fringe NBA prospect and a definite future pro somewhere.
Offensively, Whittington utilises a mid-range foul line area jumpshot, his new fangled outside range (it seems), and a right handed hook shot from the post. He has few counters in the post and does not use his left hand much, yet he has good offensive awareness and instincts, playing within himself and taking only those shots he can make. Efficient and versatile, and one of the better free throw shooting big men around, Whittington can float open and is an occasional backside lob threat, further combining decent hands with decent passing vision and good right-hand touch around the rim. With little creativity in the post other than an up-fake, limited dribbling and finishing with his left hand and without the strongest core for gaining position, Whittington is more of a finesse player than a powerful player, projecting best as a stretch big even before he demonstrated he could actually shoot from outside consistently.
Defensively, Whittington is tougher to project. He has not the strength to defend the paint, is only an adequate rim protector, and is not laterally fast on the perimeter. Whittington contests everything, plays hard, plays good help defense, bodies up, boxes out and rotates well, yet he projects well neither as a defender or rebounder at higher levels, where, without the mobility or speed to rebound outside of his area nor the explosiveness or length to climb above the crowd, he is always prone to being attacked. If he proves he is able to consistently score from the perimeter as a stretch big, he also needs to prove he can consistently defend other stretch bigs too. Western Michigan needed him on the interior too much for him to get much run at this, yet what signs there were were not all that encouraging yet.
While Whittington has proved a lot in the last month, then, there is still much more to his positional revolution than this. Nevertheless, there is a lot to like in this smart and skilled player. Although the NBA is a longshot - at least, until he shows this three point shooting was not a mere flash in the pan - Whittington will play as a pro somewhere. It might not be for a while, however, as he is recovering from a torn foot ligament and broken fibula suffered in those same workouts that got him noticed. Workouts giveth, workouts taketh away.