Hot Take Marathon: Hassan Whiteside Will Be an All-Star Next Season
Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Last season did not end on a high note for Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside. Besides not looking like himself on the court, he did not get as much postseason playing time as he expected, logging only 77 minutes in five playoff games. That is surprising considering Whiteside averaged 33 minutes per game just two seasons ago. I expect things to be different this year even though Whiteside had some talks with Heat officials this summer and will compete against similarly-skilled centers for an All-Star spot this year. Also, his health was an issue last season, so he should comfortably bounce back as long as injuries do not derail him.
Heading into the 2018-19 campaign, Whiteside spoke with Heat management and coaching staff to express his displeasure and voice his concerns. He met with team president Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra in what he called a ‘good meeting’, according to ESPN. “We had a great talk,” Whiteside said. “I just think it’s trust on both sides. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
The Heat center struggled finding his place in the rotation for various reasons. One of them was lack of fit with his teammates during certain stretches, as the team often preferred to space the floor with Kelly Olynyk, who made a career-high 1.4 threes per game at a 37.9% clip. Coach Spoelstra’s adjusted game plan required players with abilities Whiteside does not excel at, leading to the latter riding the bench more often than he was used to.
Whiteside added injuries also played a part in his struggles last season. “I was in and out of the rotation with injuries. Just coming back healthy. Coming back from a bone bruise, it takes months to heal.” If he remains healthy, his biggest competition for an All-Star spot includes Joel Embiid, Al Horford, Andre Drummond, and Myles Turner. Whiteside has continued training and said he was “completely healed” and he feels ‘great’, which leads me to believe he has everything it takes to be an All-Star next season.
As a double-double monster, Whiteside is still a menace inside the paint, on the glass, and as a rim protector. He has the most triple-doubles recorded with blocks in this century, with four; nobody else has more than two. “I feel like my regular self again,” Whiteside declared. The Eastern Conference should watch out.