The Grass Isn’t Greener On The Other Whiteside: How Hassan Whiteside Is Punishing Offenses
by 27 November 2015, 2:45 PM
Miami’s imposing big man does not like to be scored on.
Hassan Whiteside is not your typical D-League call-up.
Fourteen games into the season the Miami Heat sophomore is averaging 4.7 blocks per contest, more than any player since Elmore Smith in 1973-74 (he averaged 4.85) and more than 11 of the league’s 30 teams.
There’s also this, which still holds true:
Whiteside’s 7‘1” frame and 7‘7” wingspan enable him to recover from basically anywhere inside the free throw line to block shots. He also has a lightning quick jump, which lessens the time between when he first anticipates a shot release and when he can actually contest it. Here’s a good example of a play that would have yielded an easy bucket if not for Whiteside’s agility and prescience:
While Whiteside is clearly an elite blocker, he has tons of defensive gravity even when he doesn’t spike a shot into the stands.
Check out his defensive shot chart below, per NBA Savant.
Note how opponents shoot below league average whether Whiteside is defending them in the paint or on the perimeter. His speedy footwork and length help him force guards into launching contested jumpers, shots that are far more appealing than a one-on-one meeting with Whiteside at the rim. This skill is particularly valuable for Miami because its guards can switch on pick-and-rolls and not worry about their big getting toasted. In fact, according to NBA.com, opponents shoot 13% worse than usual from 15 plus feet out when Hassan is guarding them. They’re also zero for seven from three when he is their lone defender.
However, Whiteside spends the majority of his time near the bucket. This year he’s holding his opponents to a 42.4% success rate at the rim, a 5.9% drop from what they usually shoot. This defensive field goal percentage represents the 12th best (lowest) figure in the league among players who both play more than 20 minutes a game and defend four or more shots at the rim per contest, according to NBA.com. Another interesting wrinkle is that Whiteside contests the most shots at the rim by far; he defends 11.6 on average while Pau Gasol, who comes in at second, defends only 9.9. This reflects Whiteside’s incredible ability to cover ground quickly and bother shot attempts of players he’s not matched up with (and sometimes shots coming from other area codes).
Don’t get it confused, though: Whiteside isn’t only a one man swat team. He packages his blocking ability with both rebounding and finishing (he’s averaging 14.6 points and 11.2 boards per game), and has netted two triple doubles this year, both with 10+ blocks:
Whiteside is easily on pace for one of the greatest defensive seasons of all time, and if he can keep it up, he’ll become the best D-League call-up of all time. Miami might have lost LeBron, but at least it got Hassan.
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