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Is Hassan Whiteside a Franchise Player?

Hassan Whiteside become a unrestricted free agent this summer, so the Miami Heat will have to ask themselves is a Hassan Whiteside a franchise player?

This upcoming off-season, each NBA team will experience an an extreme salary cap increase. With this rise in spending money, important monetary decisions have to be made. For the Miami Heat, they have to make a crucial financial decision that will affect the future of their franchise. Their 26-year-old center is currently averaging a double-double for the second straight season after not playing in the NBA since the 2011-2012 season. His contract is set to expire after making a mere $981,348 for his services this season. That leaves the Heat organization asking themselves if Hassan Whiteside is a franchise player.

During the 2014-2015 season, Miami took a chance on Whiteside, signing him to a two-year contract. He signed with the franchise on November 24, was assigned to their D-League affiliate on December 13, and was recalled two days later. By his third game, Whiteside was already putting up game-high rebounding statistics. By his eleventh game, he dropped his first career double-double. Ten games later, Whiteside achieved his first triple-double; off the bench no less. He has continued to grow and develop since his explosion, and is making the case of being one of the best big men in the league. He is the current Heat franchise leader in blocks for a single game (12), the fastest player to reach 1,000 career rebounds in Heat history, and has totaled the most triple-doubles for a center (3) this season in under 30 mpg. With all these flashy statistics and records, paying Whiteside should be a no-brainer for Miami. However, it’s much more complicated than that.

 Whiteside can possibly command nearly $22 million per season if he is offered a max contract. Teams might have been skeptical on the unknown 7-footer last season, but he has proven that he belongs. He’s averaging more points per game and more blocks per game than the season prior. If he continues his rampage, he’ll be the first player to block nearly 4 shots a game since Alonzo Mourning back in the 1999-2000 season. NBA organizations in need of a shot-blocking paint enforcer will certainly pay top dollar for Whiteside. Miami has recognized his talent and will have to decide if he’s worth the significant boost he’s bound to receive. The problem is, he might not actually be worth it; at least for the Miami Heat that is.

Statistically, Miami is worse defensively when Hassan is the man in the middle. Before the All-Star Break, the Heat had a defensive rating of 102.0 with Whiteside on the court and a 96.5 rating with him off the court. He gets caught staring at plays, fails to get to spots fast enough, and is constantly out of position. He lacks defensive IQ and awareness, causing Miami to not be as productive on that end. Additionally, Whiteside is a terrible shooter from the charity stripe, and not very efficient from outside 3 feet of the basket. Whiteside also has a history of immaturity and attitude issues, which is not an appealing quality in your team’s franchise player. The Heat franchise is known for being first-class and will not put up with the ego’s of their players.

Pat Riley and the front office have had their eyes on Kevin Durant for quite some time. However, if they resign Whiteside to a max-contract then their pursuits of other players in the approaching free agent pool comes to a halt. Entering this offseason, Miami should want as much cap space as possible. Big names such as Durant, Pau Gasol, and Demar Derozan all hit free agency this summer. Signing a non-focused big man with a temper may not their be their best option considering the other talent available.

Hassan Whiteside has etched himself into the Heat history books, but is he their franchise player of the future? Dwyane Wade won’t be around forever, so whoever they sign should be able to relinquish the reins from him at some point. Miami will soon have to decide if Whiteside is their big man of the future, along with if he’s worth the headaches that come with him. 


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