The Utah Jazz find themselves in a position they were all too familiar with throughout the 2020-21 season, and that is sitting atop the Western Conference. Much like a season ago, Utah is off to a flying start with a 6-1 record, boasting a top-5 offense and defense through the early goings of the new campaign. Of course, the Jazz are led by their two All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Spida is providing the all-around scoring punch, averaging nearly 25 points a night, while the Stifle Tower anchors their defense.

But Utah's success does not just hinge on their two stars. They have a high-level supporting cast that know their respective roles and play it to the best of their abilities. One of them has been quite the pleasant surprise for the Jazz early in this 2021-22 NBA season and that is free agent signee Hassan Whiteside.

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Whiteside is a guy that does not have the best reputation out there. He is perceived as sort of a jokester, someone who doesn't take the game seriously, and someone who does not always go a hundred percent on every possession. But so far with the Jazz, the veteran center is proving that he can be a solid contributor, especially for a team with title aspirations like the Jazz.

Hassan Whiteside signed with Utah this summer on the veteran's minimum. The 32-year old admitted he did not seek the money this past free agency period. Rather, he made it his main priority to go to a team with a real chance to win a championship.

Whiteside also knew exactly what he signed himself up for. He knew he would serve a back up role to Rudy Gobert. He knew he would not get the same kind of minutes he was accustomed to for majority of his career. The Jazz, meanwhile, wanted him to bring the same kind of shot blocking and rim protection they would need when Gobert takes a breather on the bench. So far, Whiteside is providing just that in his limited minutes off the pine. In seven games, the 7-footer is averaging 7.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in 16.5 reserve minutes.

Despite doubts when the signing first happened, Whiteside has fit seamlessly in Utah so far. Contrary to his perception of not playing hard enough, the 10-year veteran has gone all out whenever he steps on the floor for the Jazz. He has provided Utah with the toughness and grit they need in the second unit and his efforts helped jolt some energy to the Jazz when they needed it.

While Whiteside's impact on both ends of the floor have been noteworthy, it's what he brings off of it that has also been invaluable to the Jazz so far. Whiteside's happy-go-lucky personality can rub some people the wrong way. But his fun-loving and positive attitude has been infectious in the Jazz locker room and his teammates love his presence on the team.

It has only been seven games, but Hassan Whiteside may have just found a safe space in Salt Lake City.