Placing Hassan Whiteside’s Triple-Double in Historical Context

Whiteside's triple-double was good, but a deeper look proves it was historical.

Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Dikembe Mutombo, Mark Eaton, Shawn Bradley, Shaquille O’Neal and now ... Hassan Whiteside?

Ever heard of this kid? If you didn’t before, you probably know of him now.

Whiteside, a seven-foot former NBA D-Leaguer-turned-Miami Heat, went all beast mode in the Heat’s 96-84 victory in Chicago Sunday. He finished with a surprising and staggering stat line of 14 points, 13 rebounds, and a Miami Heat franchise-high 12 blocks. Kanye West would call that “a triple double no assists.”

Whiteside joined the aforementioned giants of the game as the only players ever to put up a stat line of that rim-protecting prowess. As great as Whiteside’s stat-stuffing Sunday showcase was, there’s something that makes it even better. Something those greats weren't ever able to accomplish. Something that only one other player in the modern shot-clock era has ever accomplished.

Whiteside played only 25 minutes. To put that in perspective, Russell Westbrook is the only player in NBA history to have recorded a faster triple-double than Whiteside when he did it in 20 minutes on March 4, 2014 against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers.

Where Whiteside’s triple-dub sets itself apart is how efficient it was. We here numberFire calculate a player’s season-long nERD to indicate how many wins a player would provide as a starter on an average team. However for this fantastic feat, it was only appropriate to put these numbers against the tops in the league. This one game alone raised his nERD from 2.6 to 3.3.

His nERD, if we use the numbers from his game Sunday and paced it over the remaining games on the Heat’s schedule, would be 18.09. How impressive is that number? It would put him fourth in our power rankings, behind names like James Harden, Stephen Curry, and Chris Paul.

But wait. There’s more! To appreciate Whiteside’s game completely, check out his efficiency score here at numberFire. His current nF Efficiency, at a solid 5.1, places him fifth on our list of players who play average minutes. His nF Efficiency, which indicates point differential as a starter, score of Sunday’s game? 6.94. That’s good for the best in the league, ahead of the Unibrow (6.6) and the Bearded One (6.1).

To recap, Whiteside’s performance is in the same company as The Dream, The Admiral, Shaq, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, James Harden, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. Not too bad for a player who couldn’t even get a team to give him a workout three months ago, right?

To say this was his coming out party would be partially correct. True, he hasn’t done something like this in the national spotlight like he did on Sunday. However, Heat fans were introduced to the monster out of Marshall on January 11, when he dominated the Clippers and the league’s leading rebounder, DeAndre Jordan, en route to a 23-point, 16-rebound masterpiece.

After that game, when asked about his performance, Whiteside put the NBA and the entire world on notice. “I got a chip on my shoulder," Whiteside said after the game. “I mean every team in the NBA said no to me so, especially [the Clippers]. I couldn’t even get a training camp invite. The Clippers thought it was a good idea, Doc said no. I tried to get a workout in, Doc said no.

“I’m going to always come in with a chip on my shoulder.”

Indeed, he is playing like he has an entire boulder on his shoulder, and the rest of the NBA better take notice. When you play the Miami Heat, and you see a clear path to the lane, be wary of the seven-footer with something to prove.