Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside has made it clear to the rest of the NBA that he has arrived. From once being drafted in the second round by the Sacramento Kings in 2010 and being waived by the Kings and Grizzlies to signing a contract with the Miami Heat, Whiteside has seen every side of success. Whether he was playing in the NBA D-League or on an actual NBA court, Hassan Whiteside knows how to provide one thing: defense.

Hassan Whiteside had a breakout stretch last season with the Miami Heat when he averaged 11.8 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks in 48 games. With such a sample size, people did not truly know if Whiteside could improve on his abilities or consistently provide his dominating brand of defense. Can a player that has been waived by two NBA teams and bounced around the developmental league contribute at a high level for a team like the Miami Heat?

The answer is yes. So far in the 2015-16 NBA season, Hassan Whiteside has clearly improved his game. Through 16 games, Whiteside is putting up tremendous numbers in terms of rim protection defense and rebounding. Hassan Whiteside currently leads the league in blocks per game with 4.7 and he averages 5.8 blocks, per 36 minutes of NBA action. Whiteside is putting up two more blocks per game this season than last season. Also, Hassan Whiteside is third in defensive win shares (1.4), second in defensive plus/minus (5.2), and first in defensive rating with 87.7. That’s right. When Hassan Whiteside is on the court, teams are only scoring 87.7 points per 100 possessions against the Miami Heat. Whiteside also blocks 12.3% of opponents two-point field goals when he is on the court. Hassan Whiteside is shattering expectations, as no one anticipated this kind of improvement.

Not only is Hassan Whiteside’s defense elite, but his rebounding rate puts him in the upper echelon of the NBA. Whiteside is averaging 11.2 rebounds per game and three of those per game come on the offensive glass. The importance of Hassan Whiteside crashing the offensive boards gives the rest of the Miami Heat easier opportunities to score. He ranks seventh in the NBA in total rebounds and fifth in rebounds per game. Being able to rebound the ball at a efficient rate takes away opponents’ likeliness for second chance points. Rebounding and defense go hand-in-hand and Hassan Whiteside has the perfect combination of both.

This 7-foot center from Gastonia, North Carolina is the big man the Miami Heat have been looking for. Hassan Whiteside came out of nowhere and now has the NBA games all figured out. Opponents are having a hard time scoring the ball whenever he is on the court and Whiteside is instrumental is every Miami Heat win. Defense wins championships and if the Miami Heat want to return to the finals, then they have their defensive centerpiece. There is no doubt Hassan Whiteside is the Defensive Player of the Year so far in the 2015-16 NBA season and expect this run to only continue.

 

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Louis Prejean

Spark Sports NBA Analyst

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