Jacari McRae | November 17th, 2018
For Hassan Whiteside, the 2017-18 season was a massive disappointment. He went through an injury-riddled and lackluster campaign before the Miami Heat were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. As a result, his name was involved in trade rumors.
Putting in the Work
Instead of sulking, Whiteside went to work this summer. Before the season started, he told The Miami Herald that he hired a personal trainer, did sand workouts to improve his lateral quickness, and worked on his offensive game.
So far, it looks like the work has paid off.
He’s been one of the few bright spots for the Heat this season. As of Friday, he leads the league in blocks per game (3.23) and is second in the league in rebounds per game (14.8). He’s been catching lobs, grabbing rebounds, setting good screens, and more importantly, playing with great effort. Watching his games, you can tell how different he looks compared to last season.
Take a look at last Wednesday’s game vs the Spurs, for example. In arguably his best performance of the season, Whiteside dismantled the Spurs offense, recording nine blocks(eight in the first half). He had defenders thinking twice about going the rim, especially Spurs all-star guard DeMar DeRozan. Whiteside finished the game with 27 points, 20 rebounds, and nine blocks, falling just a block short of recording his fifth-career triple-double. While his numbers were impressive, it was his activity that stood out.
As long as his presence is felt defensively, Whiteside believes he can impact the game without scoring the ball as much.
“I feel like if I do that, I don’t need the ball,” said Whiteside, via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel after last Wednesday’s victory over San Antonio. “You can be an over-rebounding guy or an over-defensive guy. Nobody’s going to ever tell you, ‘Hey, man. Stop playing so much defense. Stop rebounding so much.’ ”
That’s exactly what the Heat wants to hear. They know he’s not going to score 20 or more consistently every night. But, it’s the activity level on both ends of the floor that Miami wants to see more of consistently. As long as Whiteside stays healthy and engaged, they should be able to compete for a playoff spot. Or at the very least, Whiteside’s trade value should rise.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images