Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we pose a question to a rotating panel of ESPN fantasy basketball experts to gauge their thoughts on a hot topic. Today's contributors are ESPN Fantasy's Tom Carpenter, Joe Kaiser and Kyle Soppe.
Tom Carpenter: For the most part, I think it comes down to comparing the known versus unknown. Considering that Whiteside is nearly 28 years old, I think we've seen his ceiling already; he is a player capable of a very healthy double-double and quality shot-blocking totals. But he isn't a 20 points per game scorer, sports a rough free throw percentage and has had issues staying healthy.
Turner turns 21 later this month, so we know he is nowhere near his ceiling. Looking at what he has done thus far in his brief career, it's not outlandish to think it could be 20 PPG, 9.0 RPG and 2.3 BPG with fantastic percentages, which would make him a top-20 fantasy player year in and year out. The risk is that he plateaus before reaching those heights.
I typically lean toward upside over risk in decisions like this, so I prefer Turner, but if your roster needs the safety of Whiteside's floor and big rebounds, there's nothing wrong with going that direction.
Joe Kaiser: My initial hunch was to pick Whiteside, who is the much better rebounder of the two right now, but after looking at it closer I'd actually go with Turner. It isn't that Whiteside is over the hill or on the downside of his career at age 27, but what's easy to overlook is the fact that Turner doesn't turn 21 until later this month and is already putting up 15.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 2.1 BPG.
Turner is the one who has a chance to see his numbers increase significantly in the years ahead, and though he probably will never approach the 14.1 RPG that Whiteside is averaging this season, he could end up being a 20 PPG, 10 RPG, 2 BPG player in another year or two. Meanwhile, Whiteside is probably close to his ceiling this year averaging 16.6 PPG, 14.1 RPG and 2.1 BPG and could regress in those areas if the Heat end up adding more scorers and/or rebounders in the years ahead.
Kyle Soppe: It's Myles Turner and I'm not sure it's close. Let's start with a blind resume ...
Player A: 13.1 points per game on 52.4 percent shooting from the field with a 54.8 total shooting percentage and 8.9 rebounds.
Player B: 15.5 points per game on 52.2 percent shooting from the field with a 59.9 total shooting percentage and 7.2 rebounds.
Pretty comparable, right? Well, Player A is Whiteside as a 20-year-old and Player B is Turner as a 20-year-old. The kicker? Whiteside's numbers came while playing for Marshall in Conference USA while Turner's numbers are from this season.
That said, I'm not so sure that Turner wouldn't be the right answer to this question even if they were the same age. Yes, Whiteside is averaging nearly twice as many boards this season as Turner, but given the direction of the NBA, whose skill set fits today's NBA better? Turner is a capable rebounder that has the ability to stretch the floor (58.9 percent of his shots come from 8 or more feet away), while Whiteside camps out by the rim (73.2 percent of his shots come inside of 8 feet).
Look at the top 12 centers on our per game Player Rater ... 11 of them can knock down the triple. I'm not suggesting that he is Anthony Davis-like, but it is worth noting that Turner's first season as a regular starter is very similar to that of "The Brow." With Whiteside's role changing a bit and him becoming more important offensively, Turner is boasting slightly better defensive numbers this season and projects as the player with the considerably higher ceiling.