To say that Hassan Whiteside’s presence on the Heat squad is a breath of fresh air is a severe understatement. Single-handedly, Whiteside has revived the expectations of a team whose brain, as Chris Bosh pointed out, “isn’t right, collectively and individually.” The “Great” Whiteside will be an exciting dynamic to see evolve during the season and here’s 5 reasons why:
1) Post Presence, Anyone?
One of the major deficiencies the Heat have carried over throughout these last five seasons is the lack of a true center. The Heat have placed Bosh in the 5-spot, used the Birdman as the Center off the Bench, even using the gritty UD to shore up the position all with inconsistent results. Now, those experiments are all but over. Even without detailing the different facets Whiteside’s game has brought, simply having a true center presence in the paint boxing out other big men and bring down numerous boards ultimately allows Bosh to focus on his scoring, Bird to work the wings (pun slightly intended), and D-Wade to slash to the rim with greater ease.
2) Blocking Intimidation
So he’s big but does he have the controlled coordination necessary to be a blocking machine down low? The answer is a resounding yes. In his last five games, Whiteside has swatted down 16 shots including this nasty put back against dunk-happy Blake Griffin:
3. Wait. He Scores, Too?
Yes, Whiteside is a true center. Yes, he can block, post up scorers, and rebound. But, unlike recent big men who work only on that side of their game (anyone remember Joel Anthony?), Whiteside can score, and score he did by dropping 23 points on the Clippers. Showing off great hands and quick ability off the pick and role, the Clippers had no answer when Whiteside got the ball. And, in the wake of the Heat’s need for a third scoring option, that it can come from the Center position is a welcome surprise.
4. Facilitator of the Natural Process
As mentioned above, having a true center allows the other Heat players to work within their natural position. In other words, instead of having forwards work the paint or have guards be the dominant blocking power (although D-Wade has made a name for himself in part by doing just that), those responsibilities now fall on Whiteside. Doing so allows his teammates to flourish in their positions as well as lets the instances where a forward does box out for the rebound or a guard blocks be a value-added play and not a necessary one. Whiteside also spreads the floor out where Coach Spoelstra can insert three to four scorers that can feed Whiteside, collapse the defense, and then have Whiteside quickly kick out the ball, a scheme not driven by a Heat center in a long time.
5. The Kid is a Class Act and Heat Material
Above all that is seen on the floor, Whiteside is a class act. The kid has the right disposition to learn from the best, evolve, and become yet another poster boy of Heat basketball. His true appreciation for the opportunity given is refreshing and his mindset–to quietly shut the Haters up–is something every Heat fan can relate to. He wants to work? Check. He wants to model his game after Zo? Double check. He wants to play with a huge chip on his shoulder after all the other teams (Haters) said no? Triple check. Miami, we have our center.