Whiteside making South Beach relevant
Hassan Whiteside was the silver lining to a very mediocre Heat team last year and he’s proving that it wasn’t a fluke. The first year without LeBron left a Miami Heat team with offensive struggles, below-average point guard play and no superstar to lean on when Dwyane Wade’s knees started acting up.
They began to shape up after the all-star break when they traded for Goran Dragic and started giving Whiteside consistent minutes. They finished up the final 30 games at 15-15 but Whiteside captivated his audiences with his shot blocking ability, posting nine games of 5+ blocks including a 12 block triple-double against Chicago. And also with his tenacious rebounding ability, having four games with 20+ boards including a season high 25 against the Lakers. He wasn’t the type of player last year who was going to go out every single game and give you a guaranteed 20 points, but between Bosh, Wade (when healthy) and Dragic, he didn’t need to be. His focus needed to be on rebounding and protecting the basket, which he did.
This season couldn’t be any more different from the last and Whiteside looks even better, at least on the offensive end. He’s not much of a post player but he is very proficient around the basket and inside the restricted area. A lot of his baskets come off the dribble drives by the Heat guards and since Bosh is mainly a perimeter player, that gives Whiteside, and the driving guards, plenty of room to operate. Aside from Dragic & Wade being able to attack the basket well, Whiteside has displayed very soft hands when the passes thrown to him are awry. He’s already posted four games of 20+ points which matches his total from last season and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. If he chooses to develop a post game, it’s going to wreck havoc on the rest of the league.
Since the Eastern Conference is shockingly competitive this year, Miami is going to need Whiteside to continue to operate at the level he is and they will eventually need to him to step into an even bigger role once the battles for the playoff seeds start.