Miami Heat: The Hassan Whiteside Story Is Great, But He’s Overrated

Nov 21, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) at the foul line against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 101-94. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 21, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) at the foul line against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 101-94. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last few seasons Hassan Whiteside proved that he belonged in the NBA, but is he overrated?

The history of Hassan Whiteside is an interesting story, to say the least. It all began in 2009, where Hassan was the 20th ranked center in ESPN’s high school prospects list.

Side note: the 2009 high school class produced DeMarcus Cousins and Mason Plumlee.

Whiteside spent one year at Marshall and then decided to declare for the NBA draft in 2010.

His reasoning to leave early was stated in a pre-draft interview with Warriors.com reporter Jim Barnett. Whiteside stated that “The culture left and I think I could help my mom out.” (The interview I am referencing:

In the 2010 NBA draft, the Sacramento Kings selected Whiteside in the second round with the 33rd overall pick.

(This pick did not make any sense for the Kings because they had just drafted DeMarcus Cousins. I have a bone to pick with Vlade Divac but that is for another day.)

After the 2011-12 season, the Kings ultimately let Whiteside walk because he was not playing well; he was emotional and lazy.

Mar 22, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) drives to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) during the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 22, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) drives to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) during the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

His Unexpected Resurgence 

After being released by the Kings, it was a confusing and chaotic next couple of seasons for Agent Block. He spent time in the NBA D-League, overseas and then ultimately returned to sign with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2014.

However, his most recent stint in the NBA didn’t last long. He was waived by the Grizzlies a few weeks into the 2014-15 NBA season.

The, “The Godfather” saved the day.

Pat Riley liked what he saw in the underdeveloped talent and signed him to a two-year deal.

This ultimately paid off for the Heat.

Whiteside showed flashes of stardom by recording multiple double-doubles and even a triple double during the 2014-15 season with the Heat. In particular, he made team history by being the first player in Heat history to record a triple-double with blocks – 14 points, 13 rebounds and 12 blocks vs Chicago (1/25/15).

Pat Riley received praise once again for finding a hidden gem in Hassan Whiteside. The Godfather had come to the rescue and found a good, solid center for the Heat for years to come.

Or so we all believed.

Whiteside made us all believe that he had a high ceiling. He wanted us to believe that he could do more than what he showed us in college and his first years in the league.

Ultimately, Whiteside still has the same problems that the Kings first experienced with him.

He is emotional on the court. When things don’t go his way, he sets lazy screens and walks/jogs down the court.

Laziness has seemed to be a problem as well. There are times when Whiteside is pulled to start the third quarter in favor of Willie Reed, because of the lack of energy that he’s playing with.

May 1, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) dunks the ball as Charlotte Hornets center Frank Kaminsky III (44) looks on during the first half in game seven of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

May 1, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) dunks the ball as Charlotte Hornets center Frank Kaminsky III (44) looks on during the first half in game seven of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Whiteside Is A Stat-Stuffer

The basic definition of a stat-stuffer is a player who fills up all the boxes on the stat sheet – simple enough.

So, in Whiteside’s case, he can theoretically score 14 points, collect 12 rebounds, and grab five blocks. Those numbers look good, right? What could be the problem with being a stat-stuffer?

Well, you should look at the bigger picture.

Whiteside hunts for stats, such as blocks, but what happens is that he loses sight of the bigger picture.

A stat-stuffer cares about how good they look, not how well they make their team look.

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Whiteside averaged 3.7 blocks last season. That is a feat that is not reached by many big men these days. But the way that Whiteside tallied those blocks hurt Miami’s overall defense.

Whiteside “hangs out” in the paint and waits for the 6-foot-4 guards to come into his paint so he can swat them down. This is where his nickname, “Agent Block,” comes from.

He sags off who he is guarding so that he can swat down the small guy and start a transition break on the offensive end.

This can leave the guard with two options. Try and throw it over Whiteside, or lob it to his center, who is open because Whiteside went for the block.

The latter is more likely.

This is a textbook example of what I am attempting to explain:

Whiteside did not stay between Adams and the basket, which every defender is taught to do since middle school. He would rather slide over to Westbrook to get the block than trying to guard Adams. It leaves the Heat’s interior defense vulnerable.

Apr 9, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) shoots over Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 9, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) shoots over Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

He Struggles Against Competition

Agent Block also has a problem with stepping outside of his paint to guard more mobile centers, for example, Karl-Anthony Towns.

Hassan looks as if he is terrified to move away from his beloved paint to guard his opponent.

Whiteside is not quick whatsoever. He moves slowly and therefore he is incapable of leaving the paint.

Here is an example of Whiteside getting cooked by a more mobile center:

Although this is a video from the preseason, you can still compare Whiteside and Embiid.

In the video, you can observe two more things about Whiteside: how he performs against a good defender (Embiid) vs a mediocre defender (Okafor) and his length.

Whenever Agent Block is playing against a good center (DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol) he does not play very well. He is timid against these centers.

When he plays against a low-tier center he looks like he is having fun on the court. However, against a top-tier center, he looks as if he is ready for the next game before the game even starts.

Hassan still competes against them, but since he cannot impose his will as easily against them, he mentally checks out of the game.

He cannot guard centers one-on-one. His man defense is very deficient. He is just tossed around like a rag doll on the court. It is embarrassing to watch.

Now, let me step off of my soapbox to discuss what he is good at.

Apr 5, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) reacts during the second half of Tuesday night

Apr 5, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) reacts during the second half of Tuesday night

Where Hassan Excels

He can be a threat on offense. He has upped his offensive game over the summer and added some nice spin moves which have proven to be effective against opponents.

His length (7-foot-7 wingspan) aids him in grabbing offensive rebounds, which then leads to second-chance points.

He is a rebounding machine. If the ball clanks off the rim and Whiteside is near the ball, there is a 99 percent chance that Hassan grabs the ball.

He is a rim-protector. Whiteside makes the opponent regret entering his paint by punishing them with a shower of blocks.

Those are his qualities that I admire, but there are still factors that make him unappealing to me as a fan.

Whiteside Hasn’t Evolved

If you watch Whiteside’s game in college, it looks the same as it does now.

Decent mid-range shot. Good post game. Terrible one-on-one defense. Same old shot hunter.

Old habits die hard, I guess.

If I am an NBA GM, I would want my player to have developed more since college, not to have stayed stagnant.

You could point out and say that he made small additions to his game over the years, such as a spin move or a better free throw form. But the additions stop there.

Apr 12, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) is defended by Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) during the first quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 12, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) is defended by Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) during the first quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Hassan’s Ceiling

Miami signed Hassan Whiteside to a max contract this past summer hoping that he would improve on some of his flaws, but after two complete seasons he hasn’t attempted to improve his bad defensive tendencies. And that’s troubling.

Whiteside has proven to be a decent basketball player over the past two seasons. If he can keep improving, I will eat my words and accept my defeat gladly at the hands of Agent Block.

But, I think Whiteside has hit his ceiling. He is 27 years old and is playing for a team that seems to have no identity right now.

Pat Riley wants to build around Hassan Whiteside, or so it seems, but I do not see that as a possibility for the Heat.

They would have better luck building around Dion Waiters.

If you’re going to build around a player, he should be willing to take responsibility for his actions on the court, act as a mature team player and his teammates should rally around him.

Whiteside goes 0-for-3 on that checklist.

A center to build around would be Karl-Anthony Towns or Joel Embiid. Those two young players make everyone around them better and make their teammates want to be better.

Whiteside is not a leader. He needs to be led.

I would love to see Hassan prove me wrong and show all the doubters that he is more than what he has shown us.

The reality is that, currently, Hassan Whiteside is an overpaid and overrated center that was not an All-Star snub. Rudy Gobert was a center that was a snub, not Whiteside.

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