• Ryan Kelley

Which Side of Hasssan Whiteside Will Last?

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*Photo via USA Today

Since his breakout triple-double performance, in which he set the Miami Heat franchise record with 12 bloc ks, Hassan Whiteside has been one of the most intriguing stories in the NBA.

Drafted in 2010, after playing one season at Marshall University, where he led the nation in blocks, the seven-foot center was originally projected to be a lottery pick. After being labeled by executives and coaches as being “problematic” because of his arrogance and lack of acuity, Whiteside fell to Sacramento in the second round. In two seasons he spent most of his time in the D-League, playing just 19 games with the Kings before they released him.

No NBA teams showed interest in him after that, so he spent the next two years with three different D-League teams, two teams in China, and another in Lebanon. His desire and focus remained in question, as he seemed resistant to using his D-League time to actually develop his game.

This past November, the Memphis Grizzlies finally decided to take a chance on Whiteside, but they waived him the very next day. Despite being dropped to the D-League once again, Whiteside claims that this is when everything changed for him. He told USA TODAY Sports that the coach for the Grizzlies’ D-League team wrote him a letter, explaining that he didn’t care about Whiteside’s past and what he had heard.

Whiteside went on to explain that this allowed him to rid himself of the cloud of negativity that had been hanging over him since his days in Sacramento.

Taking advantage of his fresh start, Whiteside put up 24 points, 16 rebounds, and four blocks against the Miami Heat’s D-League squad. Later that night, the Heat signed Whiteside.

Which brings us back to that triple-double in January that launched him into the spotlight when he told reporters after the game that he was simply trying to boost his ratings in NBA 2K. In the 17 games he has played in since, he has recorded 12 double-doubles, including four games with 20 rebounds or more. On top of that, he is shooting nearly 63 percent from the field and has a player efficiency rating of 27.14.

However, with his long awaited emergence into the NBA has come the re-emergence of the issues that kept him from it. Having received seven technical fouls on the season, and after getting involved in scuffles with opposing players, Whiteside has paid $55,000 in fines to the league. Against Phoenix on March 2, he was ejected after being fouled hard by Alex Len and retaliated by attempting to tackle Len. Most recently, he was ejected from a game against the Celtics on Monday for striking Kelly Olynyk in the back with his forearm. As a result, the NBA suspended Whiteside for Wednesday’s game against the Nets.

While Miami head coach Eric Spoelstra maintains that the Heat plan to stick with Whiteside despite his apparent temper, some Heat players have been critical of Whiteside. If he can’t manage his emotions on the court, he could end up right back in the D-League as quickly as he left it behind.