clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

One habit of Hassan Whiteside prevents him from being a dominant NBA force of nature

New, comments

Getting triple doubles with blocks didn’t earn Whiteside a spot on the All-NBA team, but assists can.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Snubbed again: the history of Hassan Whiteside and his rise from obscurity. Let's look at a clip to see why blocks and rebounds alone don't give Hassan the respect he deserves from observers.

Here Whiteside puts his head down and muscles his way to a basket with four Atlanta Hawks players surrounding him. On this play the ball went in, but the shot itself was not a high percentage one to count on consistently dropping in.

Hassan Whiteside’s habit of putting his head down in the paint, when handling the ball, stops him from getting a spot on the All-Star team.

Contrast to how Nikola Jokic handles the ball when the defense collapses around him in the painted area. Jokic had three open shooters on the perimeter, but the dunk was too easy to pass up.

BBall Breakdown analyzes how Jokic keeps a heads-up approach for easy points by the Denver Nuggets when he is on the court.

In the ranking of centers by Hoopshype, Jokic is #2, while Whiteside comes in at #6.

Jokic is the NBA’s next superstar most fans don’t know about yet. An offense with Jokic immediately becomes elite, as he’s incredibly efficient as a scorer and something like the best big man passer in NBA history. With Jokic on the floor as a starter, the Nuggets scored nearly 118.0 points per 100 possessions, far beyond Golden State’s league leading numbers.

Jokic’s passing doesn’t show up in only gaudy assist numbers, but he creates points that wouldn’t exist otherwise – turning an average possession into an open layup or three-pointer in an instant.

Hassan keeping his head up and the ball high where help defenders can't touch it, for an outlet pass, would turn him into a NBA force. Breaking bad habits, such as relying on muscle to overpower defenders at the rim or exposing the ball low enough for a turnover, isn't easy, but necessary to reach the level of a franchise player.

Crazy as it sounds, by passing more he would get more buckets. Defenses would not leave their men to quadruple team him. Keeping defenses honest with the threat of an outlet pass, allows Whiteside to go one-on-one against the man who tries to stop him.

Think about it: is scoring in the paint easier going against one defender or four? Is getting a rebound there easier fighting one guy or four? By forcing help defenders to stay close to their men on the perimeter, Hassan Whiteside would crush anyone person who tries to stop him. And his stats would explode.

But Pat Riley minimizes individual player stats. He’s looking for someone who carry the team on the occasional down night. As Miami’s max-salary player, Whiteside’s the man chosen for that responsibility. With his height and reach being above almost everyone else, the Heat would have two floor generals (Goran Dragic and Hassan), from outside and inside, shredding other team’s defenses into a mixed-up pile of paper waiting to be discarded.