Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Last Week: 12
Hassan Whiteside is halfway there.
"Athletes can change the narratives about themselves," Ethan J. Skolnick of the Miami Herald tweeted. "That's what Hassan Whiteside is doing lately. There were issues. He's correcting them."
It's true Whiteside has cut out most of the overt knuckleheadedness that often defined his play (and, if we're honest, kept him out of the league for a few years). That's great to see, and it'll certainly benefit the Miami Heat big man when he hits free agency this summer.
Not only that, but Whiteside's overall on- and off-court impact on the Heat's defense has stabilized, per NBA.com. For a good chunk of the season, we all harped on the fact that Miami's defense suffered with him on the floor. He's basically a net neutral defensive presence now. The Heat are strong on that end with and without him.
Yet for all the game-changing stretches of highlight blocks and shot alterations inside, Whiteside still finds himself a target at times. The Warriors purposely involved him in every high pick-and-roll down the stretch of their stirring 118-112 win in Miami on Wednesday, and smart teams will do the same thing going forward. It's clear Whiteside doesn't want to leave the lane on defense.
But there aren't many Stephen Curry types out there who'll capitalize so predictably. And Whiteside has been exceptionally productive overall, averaging 21.7 points and 18 rebounds on 62.8 percent shooting in three games since the break.
As the Heat, winners of three of their four games since All-Star Weekend, try to solidify their playoff position, Whiteside looks more like a solution than a problem.