If I told you at the beginning of the season that Hassan Whiteside would record a triple-double with points, rebounds and blocks, your initial reaction would probably be “Who the heck is Hassan Whiteside?” Whiteside faced some adversity early on in his career, being drafted in the 2nd round to the Sacramento Kings, eventually having stints in the D-League and overseas. He was essentially a nobody.
Since the start of the New Year, Whiteside is averaging 12.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game. Most recently, Whiteside recorded a triple-double with points, rebounds, and blocks against the Chicago Bulls. Whiteside set a Miami Heat franchise-record with his 12 blocks. It’s even more impressive knowing that Whiteside played only 24 minutes.
It’s evident that Whiteside is starting to anchor the defense and Miami couldn’t have been any happier. A big issue that surrounded Miami during their Big Three Era was rim protection. It could be argued that the rim protectors of Miami at that time were Chris Andersen and Chris Bosh. Whiteside’s emergence has given Miami some options to move around on defense, with Bosh being the benefactor.
Chris Bosh’s game has changed throughout his career. Starting out as more of a low-post player, Bosh has expanded his game, improving his three-point shooting nearly very year. Bosh’s career high in 3-PT FG is 74 during the 2013-14 NBA Season. Bosh currently has 51 3-PT FG on 138 attempts.
The biggest cause of concern this season surrounding Miami included Dwyane Wade’s health and how Chris Bosh would play with LeBron James no longer on the roster. Bosh arguably had the 2nd worst season of his career during James’ last season in Miami (16.2 points, 6.6 rebounds). However, Bosh has played up to expectations this season with averages of 21.2 points and 7.6 rebounds. Obviously losing James is major blow to Miami’s record (20-24, 7th seed), but Whiteside’s defensive upside can provide some help.
Miami is currently ranked 19th in OPP FG % and 11th OPP Offensive Rebounds. If Whiteside can be the defensive presence that Miami hopes he could be, their rankings are sure to go up. It also might give Miami a chance to become one of the better defenses in the league as they are already ranked No. 1 in OPP Points per Game. The result of Whiteside’s presence can also directly result in a more efficient Bosh especially if Whiteside plays quality minutes. The result won’t show up on the stat sheet every night, but with Whiteside out on the floor, he takes some pressure off of Bosh’s defensive responsibilities. If this becomes the case, Bosh will have less to worry about when it comes to fatigue and even lessen his minutes. Bosh is averaging 35.4 minutes per game, 15th most in the NBA.
“It’s a blessing. Like I told my teammates, you won’t believe how things work out in life. Three months ago I was at the downtown Y(MCA) just chilling, working on my game. I couldn’t get a team to pick up the phone,” said Whiteside after the victory over Chicago.
Miami has been ravaged by injuries throughout the season, but Whiteside can provide some stability to this Miami roster. He’s still a young player (25 years old) and playing alongside two future Hall-of-Famers can only help his development. It’s clear that he has become the X-factor in Miami’s playoff push.
Whiteside earned the spotlight against Chicago and it will be on him for the rest of the season as they continue their playoff push. He’s done enough to warrant the attention but don’t expect him to falter any time soon. He’ll be at the rim waiting to protect his house and Miami’s playoff chances.