Hassan Whiteside could be the Miami Heat’s biggest advantage going into the playoffs against the Charlotte Hornets as their NBA playoffs series starts on Sunday.
Though most part of Whiteside’s stint in the NBA has been marred by rejections due to his temper, the Heat organization have him checked and reminded him that this is his perfect opportunity to disprove his critics and showcase his basketball talent on the court. Aside from the Heat, the Hornets are also keen on exploring that advantage to keep Whiteside out of his comfort zone to get the advantage in the series.
But Whiteside tells Palm Beach Post that he will try to keep to contain that “beast” inside of him and will just focus on helping his team get through the first round of the playoffs, especially in the shot blocking and rebounding department. And Charlotte knows this as they were on the receiving end during their match back in February wherein he tallied another triple-double performance.
In one performance, Whiteside tallied his 10th block and also plucked a rebound on a “lion-like” swipe that erased Marvin Williams’ layup and turned it into one at the other end for Dwyane Wade.
“Just continue coming in and doing what I’m doing. I know Charlotte knows a lot about my blocked shots,” Whiteside said.
It was one thing that Hornets coach Steve Clifford still remembers quite well and hopes to avoid the same familiar outcome of the game.
“It was tough. It was a problem for us during the season. We’ve tried to do some things here while we’re working on our offense to prepare for it, but he’s exceptional. He has length, quickness and very good instincts. You just have to be aware of him and try to make the best decision, but he’ll be a big factor in this series,” Clifford described of Whiteside.
The 26-year old center is learning the the game, especially on holding on to his temper. The Heat as organization has commended his adjustments and listening skills that helped him tame the beast inside of him. He is now listening to his coach Erik Spoelstra and to veterans Juwan Howard, Alonzo Mourning and Amare Stoudemire.
Whiteside was originally drafted by the Sacramento Kings in the 2010 NBA Draft and was waived two years later. He then started his journey having played more games with the Kings’ D-League affiliated team. He then went on to join clubs in the NBADL, Lebanon and China before being picked up by the Memphis Grizzlies in September 2014, but he didn’t stick around long and became a free agent in November 2014, when Miami picked him up for the minimum salary.
Whatever happens in the playoffs, Whiteside will for sure make an impact and at the same time get a notice from other teams that will be going after him if he opts for free agency this summer. That will also be in the priorities of Pat Riley they will try to keep Whiteside away from signing with other teams.
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