- Meet the Miami Heat centre that is taking the NBA by storm
Meet the Miami Heat centre that is taking the NBA by storm
February 12, 2015
Hassan Whiteside is enjoying a tremendous season with the Heat, but it
wasn’t easy getting there. Throughout the Miami Heat’s successful
recent period, with LeBron James headlining an All-Star trio that
contained Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, there remained one nagging flaw in the side’s makeup according to the naysayers. They lacked size.
Of course, with the best player in the world on your side and a handy
set of support acts backing him up, the lack of length on the Heat’s
roster never really troubled them as they reached the NBA Finals four
years in a row and collected shiny new rings in two of them.
There is something deliciously ironic though in the fact that, in the
first season since James took his talents away from South Beach, the
Heat have plucked a big-man out of thin air that could potentially
dominate the Eastern Conference for years to come. It’s just a shame
the franchise aren’t matching the play being produced by Hassan
Almost a month to the day after the start of the regular season, the
Heat signed the 7ft, 265lb centre from practical obscurity but have
since watched, along with the rest of the league, as the 25-year-old
has thrust himself into the wider consciousness of the sport.
As of February 4, Whiteside had registered four double-doubles and one
triple-double consecutively in his last five games. At the same point,
his Player Efficiency Rating (a stat which measures a players overall
impact on games) ranks second in the entire NBA, ahead of global stars
like James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.
If Whiteside is enjoying his time in the NBA now, it has been a long
time coming. Drafted with the third pick in the second round by the
Sacramento Kings way back in 2010, despite ownership wanting to sell it
on, Whiteside failed to convince in the two years he spent in
California. Derided as too lightweight and too adolescent to make it
the NBA, he was waived in 2012 having split his time between the big-time and the D-League.
Without an option left in the league, Whiteside went abroad, playing in
Lebanon and China and although he won a Championship in the latter, it
was a levelling experience.
He witnessed violence in the stands at games, heard a car bomb go off
and saw a dead body in the street, but admits despite those tough times
the ability to play every day helped his game progress. His
improvements alerted the Memphis Grizzlies, who signed him last
November, but was cut a day later.
In stepped the Heat, who had held a workout with him back in his pre-draft days, and immediately they noticed his progression.
After pushing himself into Eric Spoelstra’s rotation, Whiteside has made sure he makes every minute on the court count.
There was a 23-point, 16-rebound effort against the LA Clippers in
January, then a 16 and 16 outing against Milwaukee soon after. Across
2015’s month, Whiteside averaged 13 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.4
blocks per game.
Perhaps his blocking numbers have been the most striking. With such
height on his side, and a 7ft 7” wingspan, it is perhaps expected that Whiteside is a shot swatting machine, but he isn’t disappointing.
He set a new Heat record when blocking 12 Chicago Bulls shots while
collecting his first NBA triple double on January 25 and said after the
game that he just wanted to boost his rating on the video game NBA2K15.
It seems that is Whiteside’s mindset at the moment, making the league
regret passing up on him in 2010.
Once he adjusts his focus from proving people wrong to winning a title with the Heat, the rest of the league better make way.