Brooklyn Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead is entering his sophomore season. What can fans expect? Elite Sports NY’s projections are in.
There were plenty of silver linings along the Brooklyn Nets 20-62 season last year. One of those was the development of rookie point guard Isaiah Whitehead, who has secured his place in the point guard rotation.
Through 73 games played, he averaged 7.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game. Whitehead shot 40 percent from the field, but only 30 percent from deep.
What kind of development, or decline can Nets fans expect for his sophomore season?
Points Per Game
Similar to the other youth guards on the Nets, Whitehead’s play revolves around the post. Out of the 204 field goals he made last season, 118 were from less than five feet of the basket, per NBA.com. That’s 58 percent of his total field goals made.
The rest of his field goals are equally divided but limited in number. Whitehead only averaged 22.5 minutes per game last year, and it’s apparent he prefers driving down the lane. All his offense was fairly efficient, and it translated to his Per 36 numbers, where he averaged 11.9 points on 41 percent shooting.
Showing great potential as a scoring option for next year’s second unit, Whitehead recorded double-digit points in 24 games. He earned a 103.5 offensive rating and was the Nets’ 10th leading scorer.
Check these highlights from his best offensive game, a loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Rebounds Per Game
At 6-4 and 213 lbs, Whitehead isn’t the most prolific rebounder. On the year he averaged 2.5 per game, which ranked 16th among his teammates.
He did record a career-high 10 in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Grabs off the glass aren’t a huge factor to Whitehead’s game, but he shows up when needed.
Assists Per Game
Though his scoring was a welcome sight on a starless Nets team, Whitehead’s passing is underrated. He averaged 2.6 dimes per game last season but recorded at least five on nine different occasions.
In a losing effort to both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic, Whitehead recorded career-highs of eight assists. He was the team’s third-leading passer behind veteran guards Jeremy Lin and Spencer Dinwiddie.
Though he posted a lowly 17.7 assist percentage on the year, Whitehead will be the lead facilitator for the Nets second unit. Expect to see a slight jump in his usage percentage as well, which was 18.3 percent last year.
Points Per Game: 7.1
It wouldn’t be surprising for Whitehead to see a decline in points per game here, stuck in the middle of a band of guards. So many new (and better) guards joining the team will limit his output, unless he proves he deserves otherwise.
Yes, Brook Lopez is gone, and now Timofey Mozgov is the tallest big man on the Nets. Rebounds will be up for grabs, but Whitehead won’t see many. Expect him to contribute, but likely less as he takes on a bigger passing role.
Assists Per Game: 3.1
Being permanently moved to the second unit, barring injury, makes Whitehead a candidate for even better assist numbers. The previously mentioned summer acquisitions make the Nets’ bench all the better. Allowing even more pass opportunities for Whitehead.
Whitehead is up for a make or break year, now pushed into a role in the second unit. He’s bound to improve as he matures on the court, but how much is yet to be determined.