It may just be a simple play on words, but Hassan Whiteside has provided a massive boost to a critically undermanned Miami Heat outfit this season. In just 44 games this year, including 28 starts, Whiteside is averaging 11.2 points and pulling down 9.7 boards per game.
His numbers only get better from there with Whiteside posting 17.6ppg, 15.2rpg and 3.9bpg per 36 minutes. The Marshall product has only logged an average of 23 minutes per game, so it is unclear how effective he would be playing more minutes, but he has posted a PER of 26.3, which is exceptionally high. The reason for Whiteside’s explosion onto the NBA is hard to ascertain, but the fact of the matter is he has been extremely effective for the Heat this season.
Another young big man who has broken onto the scene is Rudy Gobert; a 7’1″ center hailing from France. The Stifle Tower is constantly compared to Whiteside and the debate rages on about which big is the superior building block for a team. Here are the two centre’s stats compared (per NBA.com) from the 2014-2015 season so far.
The biggest difference between the two centers is assists per game. Gobert averages a modest 1.3, yet Whiteside averages an abysmal 0.1 assists and has only totaled 6 assists the entire season. This difference could be attributed to the differing offensive playbooks of their respective coaches, but is more likely explained by the fact Whiteside attempts almost 3 shots more per game.
When Whiteside is scoring points off the pick and roll, there is little rationality in passing the ball. Most of Whiteside’s post ups are simple but effective, usually involving a drop step followed by a hook over a defender.
The biggest question is: can Whiteside maintain this level of play? He made history back in late January, achieving a triple double with blocks in less than 25 minutes, a league first. Whiteside will be a free agent at the end of the season and after being disposed by almost every team, he will be the target of a lot of teams after this post season.
With a unique skill set quite similar to Hall of Famer, Bill Russell, Whiteside can assert his dominance on the league and become the number one center, a position within his grasp. The only thing holding Whiteside back is his tendency at times to lose focus and to allow his emotions to dictate his on court play.
Hassan also finds himself in frequent foul trouble, but one feels once he has perfected the art of altering shots without fouling he can become a powerhouse in this league.
At this point in time, he is ahead of Rudy Gobert, but it is quite possible a strong rivalry has dawned on the NBA this season.