After yet another dominant display on the defensive end in the Miami Heat's blowout victory against the Charlotte Hornets Game 1, Heat Nation might be scratching their heads with the news that Hassan Whiteside placed third in the 2015-16 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.
San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard won the award for the second consecutive year with 84 first-place votes and 547 total points from a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters who voted last Thursday. Draymond Green of the the Golden State Warriors was a close second with 44 first-place votes and 421 points to finish as runner-up for the second season in a row. Leonard becomes the first non-center to win the award two years in a row since Dennis Rodman did it in 1991.
Whiteside easily placed first in the league by a wide margin over DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers, who finished in fourth place behind Whiteside with 50 total points, followed by the Atlanta Hawks' Paul Millsap with 21 total points and Avery Bradley of the Boston Celtics with 14. He averaged 3.68 blocks per game and blocked an NBA-high 269 shots this season, 92 more than Jordan.
He helped lead the Heat to a franchise-best 531 blocks this season and his 11.84 rebound average was the highest for a season in franchise history. Miami as a team finished with the fifth-fewest points allowed in the NBA.
According to the Heat, "Whiteside's Defensive Rating of 95 was the best in the NBA this season and the best rating in the league over the last five years. He posted three triple-doubles this season, all with blocks, the most including blocks during a single-season in the last 20 years and posted seven games of at least 10+ rebounds and 5+ blocks off the bench, the most in the NBA over the last 40 years. He recorded 22 5+ block games this season, the second-most during a single-season in team history, and recorded 32 5+ block games as a member of the HEAT, only Alonzo Mourning (100) has more in team history. Additionally, his 392 total blocks as a member of the HEAT already places him among the franchise's all-time top five list."
Do you think Whiteside should have placed higher in the voting? Leonard and Green also had tremendous seasons, but perhaps this fuels Whiteside even more to have a dominant showing in his first NBA Playoffs.