Two seasons ago, Hassan Whiteside was worried about getting his 2K rating up. Some monster games and huge stat lines helped him with that. Then last season everyone was curious what was going to happen with Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Justise Winslow, Chris Bosh, and Whiteside on the court together for the first time. It looked pretty impressive, but then Bosh had another medical emergency and was out for the season. So we still have yet to get a full season look of how good the Heat could have been. People were predicting that the Heat could challenge the Cavs in the East.
This season is a complete 180 to last season. Wade the #HeatLifer is out. The Heat have publicly said that they are not trying to get Bosh on the court, so Bosh is out. Now this team can still be impressive with Dragic, Waiters (or Richardson/Johnson), Winslow, either Haslem or Derrick WIlliams, and Whiteside. This is not your father's Heat team. Long gone are the days of the "Not 3, not 4, not 5..." and long gone are the days of the #HeatLifer.
Now I am a huge fan of Wade, and I will be enjoying all of his games here in the greater Chicagoland area, but I'm still going to admit that these Heat could still be dangerous. They were at their most efficient with Wade on the bench and Dragic and Whiteside running the pick-and-roll. Now that is their main offense. I'm guessing their lineup will be Dragic, Waiters, Winslow, Haslem (if he stays), and Whiteside. Their other options are they can go 2009 Lakers big with Dragic, Waiters, Winslow, McRoberts, and Whiteside. Then they can try and play small ball with Dragic, Johnson/Richardson, Waiters, Winslow, and keep Whiteside to protect the paint.
This is Whiteside's team now. He just signed the huge contract (his and Tyler Johnson's team after his contract too). The team will succeed or fail thanks to how he performs with his pick-and-rolls. He has to be solid in the pick-and-roll, and actually play team defense instead of just hunting blocks, and work on his kick-outs to the shooters. If he does all of those things he will definitely be a top-5 center in the league. If he could develop a solid mid-range shot he might be a top 3 center behind Cousins and Big KAT.
Here are his numbers (per Basketball-Reference)
As you can see, his percentage has actually gone down slightly, but if he could improve that 10-15 foot jumper he could jump in the rankings. I will say that, this past season we have gotten a bigger sampling size and the rest of the NBA was aware of the talent that he had, so hopefully this year he will adjust to it.
The Heat have the ability to play faster than they have in years, and that will only help Whiteside and Dragic. They probably won't win the championship, they might not even make the playoffs, but one year of meshing and learning how to play post-Wade-era will only be helpful for them. They can still be successful this season, but with the way the East looks, the way the Warriors look, I don't see a reason for getting yourself out of the lottery. Take this season, perfect the Whiteside/Dragic pick-and-roll, get a decent draft pick, and grow your team.
The Heat will be alright. Whiteside will be the reason.