Miami Heat big man Hassan Whiteside taking things slow, showing growth

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 30: Hassan Whiteside
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 30: Hassan Whiteside /

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside says he won’t come back until his knee is at 100 percent, showing growth in his demeanor.

Not all of Heat Nation has been kind to Miami Heat big man Hassan Whiteside lately.

While some are still standing by their center, anxiously awaiting his return, there are many others who are ready to trade their 7-footer away.

A seemingly outrageous concept, given the 28-year-old is the team’s co-headliner, alongside Goran Dragic.

But Whiteside hasn’t been playing his best basketball lately.

While he averaged 17.0 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks a game last season, he’s at 14.9 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per matchup currently. And numbers aside, he’s often looked disengaged on the court. Which in turn leads to him both becoming a defensive liability and doing little to nothing on offense either. He has also made some questionable comments lately about the likes of not understanding his minute-restriction and his teammates’ inability to set screens.

So, maybe talk of a trade has some merit after all.

Still, it’s hard to completely give up on the North Carolina-native. Especially when it has become clear that his knee injury has a lot to do with his recent lackluster performances.

Having suffered a bone bruise in his knee during the Heat’s first contests of the season (a loss to the Orlando Magic on October 18), Whiteside was forced out for five games. And while Miami clearly missed him (going 2-3 during his absence), perhaps the center came back a little too soon. Because despite having games like totaling 21 points, 17 rebounds and 2 blocks versus the Los Angeles Clippers, his play was inconsistent from night to night.

And then, it happened. Whiteside re-aggrivated the initial injury, in the Heat’s big win over the Boston Celtics.

Leaving the big man sidelined once again.

However, there is a silver-lining to this. Which is how mature the fifth-year is being about the entire process. Especially given what a chip he used to carry on his shoulder.

This time around, Whiteside isn’t rushing his recovery. Because at the end of the day, he’d rather be able to give the team his all, than just be an extra body the guys may or may not be able to rely on.

"“I don’t want to come back and be a watered down Hassan and people looking at me crazy like what’s wrong with Hassan?” he said. “Why isn’t he playing at this level or whatever? I don’t want to even risk that.’”"

And he’s staying positive.

"“I’m frustrated by it. But I’m not missing months. I’m not missing a significant amount of time. It could be worse. You’ve got guys missing a year plus out there. I’m relieved I don’t have to go through that stuff.”"

Miami is too.

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A handful of Miami Heat fans may have started to dismiss Hassan Whiteside, but it seems that post-recovery, the best may be yet to come.