I've been reading a few comments on how the Wolves should consider drafting Whiteside to get the defensive big they need. I saw this piece by David Thorpe at FOUR LETTER and have not seen it discussed here.
The piece is about Solomon Alabi, someone to consider if Whiteside is gone or perhaps instead of Whiteside.
Feb. 4 Update, by David Thorpe: I've known about Solomon since he was first discovered by some NBA scouts when he was a young teenager in Africa. When I put together a post development DVD using high school players, he was one of my demonstrators. He was 15 then, and looked to be an NBA prospect because of his unique characteristics. He is a high-energy, bright and charismatic person in the best sense. That, in a 7-foot-1 body with a huge wingspan, makes him very draft-worthy.
When NBA executives track his improvement over the years, they can't help but come to the conclusion that he will continue to get much better over time. He makes over 80 percent of his free throws. He can score around the basket with either hand. He can face up and make 15-foot jumpers. He uses great technique to front post players and he's fearless inside the paint, despite being outweighed by almost every player he faces, though not by as much as he used to be. Not to mention that Alabi has only played basketball for six years or so.
That he's a good shotblocker is no surprise, given his physical gifts. Doing so while anchoring an excellent defensive unit without fouling (only averages 2.2 a game) is certainly impressive.
All of these skills were not evident even two years ago, which is why it's fair to assume he'll continue on the same development path. His best talent though, is his spirit. He is a selfless worker, and a tireless one, reminding me in those areas of Joakim Noah, who is now one of the premier help defenders in the NBA. Unfortunately, he does not have all of Noah's talents.
Alabi is not a likely low-post scorer in the NBA because of his inability to pass out of the post, a very difficult skill to master. Nor is he someone who will take his man off the dribble from the pinch post. But at worst, he projects as a shotblocking and energy-bringing center off the bench who impacts games whether he scores or not. At best, he's a top defensive center that can play late in games because of his free-throw shooting.