Hassan Whiteside Is Once Again Dominating the NBA
It was just two and a half months ago that I was writing about Hassan Whiteside and what we could expect from him this season. After rumors surfaced suggesting that the big man would be slotted in for about 20 to 25 minutes per game, things were a little murky on the projections and expectations front.
In that offseason piece, I looked at the breakdown between games in which Whiteside played 20 to 25 minutes and games in which he played more than 25 minutes and how that affected his Heat squad. It really didn't all that much as the Heat were just under .500 regardless of Whiteside's minutes and production.
Where is he now?
To say he's back to where he left off a year ago would be a 7-foot, 265-pound understatement because Whiteside has not only sustained his production from last year but also improved upon it.
After putting up a 4-point, 6-rebound stinker (in 20 minutes of action) of a performance against Charlotte in his season debut, Whiteside has been really good.
Having gotten that out of the way early, Whiteside has gone on to grab at least 11 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks in all but one of his last seven games. As a byproduct of that consistency, in 29.4 minutes per game, Whiteside is averaging 15.3 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per contest.
And if you're thinking for one second that his numbers have only gone up because he's getting more minutes (5.6 more, to be exact) think again.
On a per-36 minute basis Whiteside is having a way better year overall. Most impressive might be that his blocks have gone up but his personal fouls per have dropped like a rock, so someone must have been perfecting his craft this summer in South Beach.
In fact, according to Nylon Calculus, Whiteside is second in the entire league in points saved and points saved for per game as a result of his rim protecting skills.
Okay, so he worked on his shot blocking this offseason, sure -- but he definitely worked on a lot more.
Whiteside's overall game, in terms of efficiency, has been leaps and bounds ahead of his game a year ago. Through eight games, he's more than doubled his nERD and has posted a Box Plus-Minus far superior to his negative showing in 2014-15. How so?
In addition to an improved defensive effort -- going from a Defensive Rating of 97 last year to 87 this year -- Whiteside has improved while also diversifying his shot attempts.
He's shooting the ball over 10% less from 0 to 3 feet. With a guy of his size, you'd expect to be a bad thing. It isn't. In last year's campaign Whiteside shot 76.2% from that distance -- nearly 15% worse than his current 90.9% conversation rate.
The other trend you'd expect that to suggest is that Whiteside has floated to the outside a little more and taking more shots from the perimeter, but that isn't the case. He's actually shooting the ball less from 10 to 16 feet and more from 3 to 10 feet. He's taking nearly 50% of his attempts from that area of the floor and hitting on 55.0% of them -- an improvement of 6.8% from a year ago.
All of this explains not only why Whiteside is tied for fifth in our player power rankings but also why Whiteside could be on his way to an All-Star caliber season -- one that could lead to a lot more money in his near future.
So, for Whiteside, this season isn't just about another day and another dollar. It's about another dominant day...and another and another and another dollar.