Whiteside's Triple-Double Silences Some Doubts, Raises More Questions for Heat

Hassan Whiteside’s monster triple double (19 points, 17 rebounds, 11 blocks) on Friday night against the Nuggets silenced some doubts, but raised big questions about his future with the Heat.

“We know what he’s capable of,” said Chris Bosh after the game. “Once [Whiteside’s] focused, he can have a big night like tonight quite consistently.”



He already has the ability to dominate games, but with a little more focus on the fundamentals he could end up being the leagues’ best big man. No one can doubt his individual talent as he continues to lead the league with 4 blocks per game. But questions abound about his fit on the Heat roster.

Great individual talent, average chemistry

Whiteside has blocked more shots per game than any other player in over a decade. Other players to average 3.8 blocks or more over a season include Alonzo Mourning, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, David Robison, and Patrick Ewing. That’s some pretty elite company. Additionally, Whiteside is one of only 8 centers this year averaging a double-double in points and rebounds.

But despite these amazing stats, the Heat score 3.3 more points per 100 possessions with Whiteside on the bench.

“For all his individual talents, the Heat have a tighter defense, better ball movement and play at a much faster pace without him,” writes NBA analysts Zach Buckley. Why is this, and will the Heat risk spending big money on a player who can’t mesh with the team?




TOO EARLY TO TELL

Only two nights before his monster performance, the Heat suffered a humiliating loss to the Clippers without Deandre Jordan or Blake Griffin.

When asked about the loss, Hassan responded: “I don’t know, man. I come off the bench and do what I normally do: rebound, block shots and dunk. That’s pretty much it.”

Confidence on the court is usually a great thing, but when a player focuses only on what he already does it can be hard for teams to win games.

While Hassan has played in the NBA for a couple of seasons, his total number of games played during those seasons is just over 100. Of those 100 games, he has started less than 80. He has proven himself as a consistent player for now, but who knows what the future holds. During this season alone he sat out games for knee tendinitis.

Injuries and setbacks affect most professional athletes at one point or another. The mark of a champion is how a player responds.

“You’ve got to keep pushing through setbacks,” said all-star teammate Dwayne Wade. “It’s a different challenge, and a lot of guys don’t understand what the challenge is about and haven’t been in this moment.”

A TWO SIDED COIN

When asked by NBA analysts Jesse Blancarte what sets himself apart from other big men Whiteside said, “We got really good scoring big men, really good defensive big men, and really good rebounding big men. But I feel like I can do all three.”

Such confidence is usually welcome. But does Whiteside back it up on the court where it counts? According to synergy data Whiteside scores 0.63 points per possession in the post where his claim to fame lies. This puts him behind even average centers/forwards like Nerlens Noel and Marreese Speights. Add the fact that Whiteside has only dished out 18 assists over his entire career and it’s clear to see that there is still some room for improvement.

On the flip side, Whiteside’s third triple-double with blocks ties him with Marcus Camby and Sean Bradley. However, his came in one-ninth the time as Camby, and one-sixth the time as Bradley according to ESPN.

The short time in the league makes his numbers that much more impressive. Also, Whiteside’s pick-and-roll game lands him in the top tenth of the league to make up for premature post moves. Whiteside scores 1.24 points per possession off the pick, ahead of great centers like Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis, Chris Bosh, and Blake Griffin according to Basketball Insiders.

ROLL THE DICE

In order to keep Whiteside, the Heat will have to use precious cap space to sign the rising star. But at what cost, and will Hassan prove to be worth the max contract? Certainly other teams will offer him deals as well. But Miami can offer Whiteside a team with a history of winning, along side of proven talent like Wade and Bosh.

When all is said and done, “somebody’s going to pay him.”

Labels: People

SOURCES:
Basketball Insiders
BasketballReference.com
Despite Nice Stats, Questions Remain for Whiteside Basketball Insiders
Dwayne Wade Sounds Pretty Fed Up With Hassan Whiteside Deadspin
Hassan Whiteside On His Monster Triple-Double Deadspin
Heat, Whiteside not on same wavelength PalmBeachPost.com
Miami Heat Face Excruciating Decision in Hassan Whiteside Bleacher Report
The Heat Still Haven’t Answered the Hassan Whiteside Questions CBS
Triple Double Bonanza ESPN
Wallace on Whiteside: ‘Somebody’s Going to Pay Him’ CBS Miami