Last season Hassan Whiteside received the most post touches (passes sent into the post area) of any player in the NBA with 602, which invites teams to double or even triple team him there. Studying game film of All-Star LeMarcus Aldridge shows how he makes teams pay for double-teaming him by passing out of the post to teammates for open looks.
As Rob Mahoney writes about Aldridge,
“Passing from the post is one of basketball's subtler arts, but it remains crucial for any offense structured around frequent low-block touches. A poor passer is easily countered when working with his back to the basket -- crowded, rushed and prodded into turnovers because of his inability to read the floor. But when a player can both earn double teams and pass out of the post appropriately, he can act as the engine for an entire offensive system.”
Reviewing last season's stats, for players with the 50 most post touches, reveals why Whiteside’s lack of passing out of the post denied him an All-Star nod, because Hassan’s doing it with blocks isn’t valued as much as assists are.
Only two players passed less than Hassan's 10.5% of touches, while All-Stars Al Horford, Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap passed to teammates at rates of 36%, 32%, 32% respectively. Again, in AST% Whiteside ranks 44th out of 50, with All-Stars among the top 6: Marc Gasol (7.7%), Horford (7.3%), Zaza Pachulia (7.2%), Millsap (6.9%), Giannis Antetokounmpo (6.7%), Nikola Vucevic (6.1%).
You don’t see Whiteside making the wide variety of passes Vucevic demonstrates in the video below.
Turnovers can be an issue as Whiteside had the fifth highest TOV/AST ratio in the table. Four players struggled more than Hassan on that ball handling issue: Richaun Holmes (8.2), Andre Drummond (5.1), Jonas Valanciunas (4.9) and Clint Capela (4.1). Not surprisingly the players with the 5 lowest turnover ratios are All-Stars Marc Gasol, Nikola Jokic, Antetokounmpo, Millsap and Horford.
A former All-Star Whiteside played alongside with, Joe Johnson shows how he smartly distributes the ball from the post in this video.
Mastering the art of taking advantage of teams doubling-up or even tripling-up on him in the paint or post may gain Hassan Whiteside the All-Star recognition he craves, instead of trying get it done with blocks. Popping passes out of multiple-coverage situations near the basket, could make him, as well as other Heat players who create plays from the post, a high-octane offense engine for the Miami Heat.
Other talented post players on the Heat who could run inside-out sets include James Johnson, Justise Winslow, Kelly Olynyk. This strategy complements the drive-and-kick that worked so well in the last 41 games.
Because defenders are busy trying to prevent the postmen from delivering mail at the rim, their teammates will thank them for improving their stat sheets with open looks for easy baskets. And the wins will follow for a deep run in the play-offs.