Blocks and dunks off of lobs look great as highlights, but are passive basketball plays reacting to what’s happening on the court. In the predictable Miami Heat game plan Hassan Whiteside stands around the painted area waiting for the action to unfold before him and hoping to help the team. In Saturday's second half another Whiteside emerged, who actively initiated plays for the Heat and energized the team.
In the process Hassan displayed his versatility to space the floor and make baskets outside his normal hunting grounds of the painted area.
In addition he was nibble around the basket and showed his quickness and hustle getting to the basketball before the Orlando Magic could react.
Perhaps Goran Dragic taking the night off, and giving Whiteside sideline advice on running point, gave Hassan more freedom to run the show for his team. As mentioned above, the game started normally with Whiteside passively planted in his usual post position, setting screens and fighting multiple defenders to score. In second half though, he actually acted as a ballhandler leading Miami into their set plays. He was all over the key and elbow areas guiding players to their spots. Quite a change from the Hassan we’re used to seeing.
Highlights from a previous season shows he can dish out assists, run the floor and make outlet passes.
Normally I'm not a fan of mid-range jumpers, but if Whiteside continues to convert them, teams will have to respect him and leave the paint open for teammates, such as Josh Richardson for a cut to the open rim area.
Besides his signature 3-point shooting, Richardson displayed a mastery of the finger roll, which goes back to his days in Tennessee.
Erik Spoelstra took Whiteside out before the Magic got a read of what Hassan could do when fully engaged. The game action offers a glimpse of what Spo will do as teams sag off Dion Waiters to neuter his signature drive-and-kick move.
Clubs caught on to what worked in Miami's 30-11 finish, and they'll be ready to stop it. Teams aren't prepared yet for Whiteside as an active playmaker, who intiates sets instead of passively waiting to get the basketball. Lot of interesting basketball for Heat fans coming up.