With Dwyane Wade in Chicago and Chris Bosh continuing his battle with blood clots, Miami Heat big man Hassan Whiteside has quickly become the focal point of a Miami Heat team suddenly experiencing a youth movement. Playing more minutes than at any point in his five-year NBA career, Whiteside has gotten off to a torrid start, averaging 20 points per game and securing a career-high 14 rebounds. And though his blocks per game aren’t quite up to snuff yet (2.6 compared to 3.7 a game a season ago), we have a feeling that’s about to change, too.
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Whiteside inserted himself as an early candidate for play of the year when he snatched a floater by Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam out of mid-air on Friday night, then palmed it on his way back down to the ground to secure possession. It was an unbelievably athletic play from the Heat’s 7-footer, and a glimpse at the sort of defensive monster he’s quickly morphing into.
A warning to all future Heat opponents: don’t bring weak stuff around Whiteside. He’ll snatch it out of the heavens and never give it back.