Miami Heat Makes and Misses: Justise Winslow’s expanded role and more

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 06: Kevin Durant
OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 06: Kevin Durant /
4 of 6
DENVER, CO – NOVEMBER 03: Jamal Murray
DENVER, CO – NOVEMBER 03: Jamal Murray /

Make: Whiteside’s Benching

The Hassan Whiteside Experience continued this week, after an abysmal effort at Golden State leading to a second half benching. Against the Warriors, Whiteside played just 16 minutes and went 1-for-9 for 3, and was a -15. He struggled to establish any sort of inside presence, as the defending champions packed the paint with their best defenders.

The performance was Whiteside’s worst in some time, as he regularly challenged one of the league’s best defenders, Draymond Green, in a one-on-one situation. Green won easily, forcing difficult shots like turnaround jumpers.

After 24 hours of doubters creeping in about Whiteside’s future on the team, the franchise center met with team captains Dragic, James Johnson and Udonis Haslem, as well as the coaching staff to regroup and refocus. As it turns out, the benching may have been the best thing that happened to him.

Whiteside came out like the dominant big man everyone knows he can be against the Suns, playing an efficient 28 minutes. He scored 23 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and registered four crushing blocks.

His effort and activity was consistent throughout, particularly late in the game where he notched two blocks on one possession, even coming from out of bounds to finish the play.

When Whiteside is imposing his will like this, even in a 28-minute effort, the Heat are incredibly dangerous defensively. The core of their defensive gameplan is to funnel the ball handlers to their rim protector. And when he is making plays like the one below, that defense tightens up and puts immense pressure on the opposing offense.

Ideally, it’d be great if these interventions weren’t necessary with Whiteside, who showed the type of immaturity that has hindered his development over the years. Hopefully in the future though, Whiteside is able to overcome a tough start and put aside a personal vendetta (i.e. going one-on-one against Draymond Green) to play within the system and be the consistent dominant center the Heat need.