Isaiah Whitehead went through the growing pains typical of most NBA rookies last season, but the Nets guard said he is ready to take the next step.
“It was a solid year, just getting to know the league and everyone around it,” said Whitehead, who was running a youth basketball clinic at Lawrence Middle School Wednesday evening. The second-round pick out of Seton Hall, whom the Nets acquired in a draft night trade with Utah, averaged 7.4 points and 22.5 minutes per game. He appeared in 73 games and started 26 of them.
Whitehead was thrust into a larger-than-expected role early in the season, thanks to injuries to the team’s other point guards, and generally held his own. He was eighth in the league among rookies in points per game and tied for fourth in assists per game (2.6).
He struggled with his shot, making just over 40 percent of his field-goal attempts and 29.5 percent of his three-pointers. He also had problems with turnovers, posting a turnover per possession rate north of 20 percent (only five players in the league had a higher turnover rate, per Basketball-Reference.com).
Despite these struggles, Whitehead said the most difficult part of his transition to the league was on defense. “Guarding the best players in the world every night was definitely a tough challenge,” he said.
Overall, the Nets were considerably better with Whitehead on the court than off it. They were outscored by 2.2 points per 100 possessions when he was on the court, compared to 8.2 points per 100 possessions when he was off it, according to Basketball-Reference.
He now heads into his first professional offseason looking to build off his solid debut.
Said Whitehead: “I’m just trying to get better as an overall player, and come back stronger than I was last year.”