The Miami Heat started this year trying to figure out how life after LeBron James would go, the answer, not very well at the start. The Heat have been an inconsistent bunch, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh have been consistent, but the rest of the roster not so much.
With several new pieces, it takes time for a team to gel, particularly on the defensive side of the floor. In the previous four years, Bosh spent a ton of time at center. With James now in Cleveland, he started the year in the middle before sliding down to his natural position of power forward. The problem being that the Heat didn’t have a deep bunch of bigs, outside of Chris Andersen, Justin Hamilton saw time at center.
Then, things changed for the better with a seemingly low key signing, Hassan Whiteside. The big man was selected in the second round of the 2010 draft by the Sacramento Kings. He’s since been out of the NBA, bounced around while spending some time in the D-league and China.
Miami signed him as a free agent near the end of November, the signing barely made sound in the media. The 25 year old big out of Marshall has taken advantage of his second chance, working his way into Miami’s rotation. His first game with 20 minutes of playing time came on December 31st, tallying six points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
Whiteside has started to hit his stride in the new year, averaging 21.7 minutes this month. In his playing time, he’s averaged 12.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, and a whopping 4 blocks per game.
That impact has solidified Miami’s troublesome defense, giving them a true rim protector. His presence allows the perimeter players in Miami to guard tighter knowing that there is an eraser behind them.
While he has room to grow on the offensive end, he’s shown the ability to finish in traffic, mostly through dunks. With the attention that Wade and Bosh draw, Whiteside helps the spacing by being able to play above the rim. He’s also been a force on the offensive glass.
Even though the Heat are in the bottom half of the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference, Whiteside’s impact has been very evident. A great example may be his most recent game, yesterday in Chicago. Coming off the bench, playing just 25 minutes, Whiteside posted an insane line in the box score.
The second year center had 14 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 blocks. Yes, 12 blocks. Making NBA history for becoming the fastest player to a triple-double including blocks in just 24:47 of playing time.
Miami is 6-4 in their last 10 games, 20-24 overall. If they are able to gain traction in the conference and rise up the ranks, it’ll start on the defensive end of the floor. Specifically with their new young rim protector in Hassan Whiteside. It’s safe to say that Miami has yet to reach their upside thus far this season, with Whitside now in tow, it’s possible.
What do you think of Whiteside’s impact in Miami? Share your thoughts below in the comment section!!