In his two post-return games, Whiteside averaged 10 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.5 blocks — in just 22 minutes! On Friday in Charlotte, that included a “triple double” of 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks — all in only 27 minutes. The Heat have yet to return Whiteside to the starting lineup in an effort to help limit his playing time.
That was Whiteside’s third triple-double with blocks this season, and he’s the only NBA player to do that (with blocks) in the past three seasons.
Perhaps most importantly, the Heat (29-22) won both of those games and are now just a half-game behind Atlanta and Boston for the East’s No. 3 seed.
In overnight Twitter commentary, though, Whiteside seemed less concerned with raw numbers — instead focusing on the cumulative psychological impact that an elite shot-blocker can have on his opponents.
A wise man once said pic.twitter.com/h1GCwQZr2x
— Hassan Whiteside (@youngwhiteside) February 6, 2016
The results show that the plan is working quite well. The Heat are flourishing as a team with Whiteside, and as an individual, he’s averaging over 12 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks per game in the season before his July free agency. His player efficiency rating (PER) is 23.8, which confirms that his breakout performance a year ago (26.2) was no fluke whatsoever.
In an era where elite size and rim protection is increasingly rare, that kind of interior presence has Whiteside positioned to become a very rich man in just a few short months.
Ben DuBose is a veteran sports reporter who has followed the Houston Rockets and the NBA since Hakeem Olajuwon was Akeem Olajuwon. He writes for both SheridanHoops and ClutchFans, an independent Rockets blog. You can follow him on Twitter.