Many people questioned Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside coming into the 2015-2016 season. They had a good reason to, as many thought Whiteside would fall off after a breakout season.
It’s time to stop doubting Whiteside now.
Through the Heat’s first four games this season, Whiteside is averaging 15.8 points, 11 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game. Whiteside ranks 7th in the league in rebounds per game, and ranks 6th in points per game at the center position.
His 3.5 blocks per game have him 3rd in the NBA, and the leading shot blocker in the Eastern Conference. The double-double machine Whiteside has 24 double-doubles through 52 career games with the Heat, giving him a double-double in 46% of his career games with the team.
If the Heat want to win games and be a problem in the Eastern Conference, Whiteside needs to be on the loose and helping the Heat win games at the level he has shown that he can play at. Former Heat player and current executive for the team Alonzo Mourning is keeping Whiteside hungry.
“He was just saying, ‘Keep working,'” Whiteside said of Mourning. “He was just talking about coming in and just putting in the hard work every single day.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra can’t get enough of him either.
“His conditioning level was great, as you can see,” said Erik Spoelstra, as he drew on one of the few positives from the Heat’s otherwise lethargic performance on Tuesday. “He made some plays at the end of the offense when we got stuck. That’s where a lot of his offense came from, either on put-backs or end-of-our-possession post-ups, and he was very efficient in those situations.”
Whiteside has shown flashes of 2006 Shaquille O’Neal to Heat fans with his alley-oop dunks that come off a feed from guard Dwyane Wade. Wade has brought that to Whiteside’s attention.
“He basically told me, ‘This is how I used to get a lot of lobs to Shaq,'” Whiteside said. “I just kind of listened to that and try to do it that way. It’s crazy. I remember watching them in high school. Now I’m playing with him. Who didn’t watch Shaq and D-Wade? I was practicing on a little hoop outside, but it’s crazy that it’s actually happening.”
Whiteside’s goal for the Heat and himself remains to get wins and get better – something NBA and Heat fans will love to see.
“They’re double-teaming me a lot more than they did last year,” Whiteside of the defenses he is facing. “I’m just trying to impact that game. If it’s not points and rebounds, it’s blocks. I try to affect the game in something, and try to help us win games.”
The Hassan Whiteside problem is a good one to have in South Beach. Whenever I think about Whiteside, I think of Kanye West and Jay-Z saying “Who gon’ stop me huh?” I think this because, who is going to stop Hassan Whiteside this year?
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