He finished 3rd in the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year Award voting just weeks ago. But as the NBA Playoffs have unfolded for the Miami Heat, it's been clear that Hassan Whiteside has become a defensive liability.
A first round series against Al Jefferson and the Charlotte Hornets, and two games against Jonas Valanciunas and the Toronto Raptors have been able to expose some of the problems Whiteside has against big and physical players.
Here are the issues:
He's not boxing out
You nay question this and say, well he's getting double digit rebounds regularly. And that's true. Whiteside is continuing to have great rebounding numbers. But so far against Valanciunas, he's been getting hurt giving up offensive rebounds. Whiteside normally just uses his enormous length and vertical to go get rebounds. But JV has begun to use his body to get position and actually begin to box out.
This has led to poor timing and consequently, second chance points against the Heat. In my opinion, it was one of the leading factors why the Heat lost Game 2. Whiteside simply allowed too many bunnies for JV. He needs to go back to the basics of boxing out first before rising for the rebound. He will still have solid numbers, but this should eliminate the easy ones.
Until he does this, he's becoming a liability. And Erik Spoelstra might use Udonis Haslem more and more.
He's not strong enough
Al Jefferson revealed this and now Jonas Valanciunas is exposing it. The Raptors are simply letting him back down Whiteside. As the only defensive paint presence, Whiteside can't allow Valanciunas to back him straight down. He's done it over and over, and now is causing Miami to think about sending double teams. DOUBLE TEAMS on Jonas Valanciunas.
He's got to be stronger in post defensive not giving up the ground. If JV continues to be able to score in the pain at ease, the Heat are in trouble especially is Kyle Lowry even really gets going.
He's not mobile enough on the pick-and-roll
Kemba Walker ran this until he ran out of games to do so. And the Raptors are using it as their go-to play when the clock winds down. Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross are all taking advantage of the fact the Whiteside refuses to really come out or even switch on a screen, and giving them an open mid-range jumper.
Whiteside typically comes out a bit, and then slowly floats back protecting the dump or lob pass back to Valanciunas on the roll. That's great, but it is continually giving those guys open mid-range shots. Miami, as a team, needs a better strategy here because the Raptors will eventually perfect this and work it to their advantage over and over.
Whiteside's inability to be more mobile on the PnR is hurting Miami's defense.
The Miami Heat need Hassan Whiteside in the game. He creates issues for the Raptors on defense. He creates a desire to drive to the rim on him and offers plenty of positives. But the negatives have become glaring because it seems as though they are costing the Heat substantially.