When the Miami Heat signed Hassan Whiteside to a max contract they expected a double-double machine in the mold of a Shaquille O'Neal, circa 2006. The NBA has moved on since those days to teams winning with small-ball line-ups, following the lead of the Golden State Warriors. In the win over the Orlando Magic, Whiteside showed how he too could adapt to today's NBA's style, for 15 minutes at least.
First half Hassan:
Second half Hassan:
And his assist for Miami to take the lead in 4th quarter.
Hassan's Offensive Efficiency Rating (ORtg) went from a low 92 in the first half, to a team-best 163 in the second half, despite not scoring a single field goal in those 24 minutes. His Assist Ratio (AR) jumped from 0 to 68 between the halves, which made his team better. AR defintion: "Assist Ratio is the percentage of a team's possessions that ends in an assist."
First Half versus Second Half
Numbers courtesy of NBA stats.
Note: %UA1 and %UA2 are Unassisted Attempts first and second halves.
Looking at the points scored in the second half Whiteside became like a quarterback for the Heat's running backs and receivers, Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson, who piled up the majority of the points in the second half.
Hassan in the high post set screens allowing Dragic operating space to score unassisted baskets in the painted area. Johnson was a receiver who went from 100% unassisted scores, i.e iso-buckets in the first half, to 64% assisted ones in the second.
As an aside, Tyler has strengths and weaknesses. He can't handle the ball like Kyrie Irving, but he can run and out-jump an Irving or Elfrid Payton anytime: that's Johnson's edge over most guards in the NBA. How does Miami game plan to put Tyler and company in a position to use their unfair advantages during a game?
Ira Winderman quotes Whiteside as saying he's having fun in his new role, "It always looks better when the guys are making shots," he said. "Passing always looks way better. So it's fun to score with them guys out there scoring like that."
Coach Erik Spoelstra noted that simple passes lead to less turnovers and better execution, "But it’s a great action for us. He's getting better it. And he's a big guy, too. And he's skilled. He doesn't have to thread the needle. He doesn't have to do Arvydas Sabonis-type passes. He just has to get us into a coherent action that forces two on the ball and then we can play from there."
Spoelstra praised Hassan's high-post screening, which gave Dragic wiggle room for his crucial basket, "He helped our offense the entire second half," Spoelstra said. "Not only that passing, but the screening in the fourth quarter, getting Goran open down the stretch."
The Detroit Pistons and other teams will study Orlando's game film to stop Whiteside from dishing out simple assists like the ones on Wednesday. Andre Drummond and company held the San Antonio Spurs to their lowest point total of the season in a 93-79 win. Can Hassan repeat his performance against a Drummond, instead of a Bismack Biyombo?