There has only been one person that scored 100 points in a single NBA game. In NBA history, that same person who scored 100 points in a game is also the only person to average 50 points and 20 rebounds for an entire season. In 1962, the great Wilt Chamberlain became the only person to ever accomplish that feat for a season and to this day, his name gets mentioned when people speak about the greatest basketball players to ever live.
Now, at 26-years-old and only playing in his 93rd game as a professional NBA player, Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside is expected to put up the same numbers as Chamberlain, and fans need to dial back their expectations quickly.
Are we expecting a little too much from Whiteside when he’s still just a young player?
Whiteside might not be Chamberlain, but he’s the closest reincarnation of Alonzo Mourning that the Heat have had in a decade. Chamberlain was a once in a generation type of player like the same way that Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan are as well. For some reason, the expectations throughout the city have been insane when it comes to Whiteside and we need to keep it in perspective.
The biggest reason why everyone has seemed like they’ve changed their opinion about Whiteside is because of his fourth quarter production. The minutes in the fourth quarter have come sparingly this season since Whiteside isn’t a great free-throw shooter. However, whenever he’s on the court he’s been productive and the lack of playing time in the fourth quarter shouldn’t allow you to change your opinion about his game.
“He’s very important to this team, and he’s got to understand that. Whatever minutes he’s on the floor, he has to dominate those minutes. Whenever he’s not, he needs to cheer on his teammates” said Dwyane Wade.
There have even been trade rumors associated with his name as well. Firstly, if the Sacramento Kings are willing to trade away DeMarcus Cousins to the Heat for Whiteside it’s a trade that Miami can’t refuse. Cousins is a younger player, he’s the best center in the league, he’s a walking 20 points and 10 rebounds, and he’s getting ready to become a two-time All-Star this year. Oh yeah did we mention how Cousins could potentially be on the way to the hall of fame before his career is over?
The fact that the Kings would look at Whiteside as equal value to Cousins isn’t an indictment against his game. Instead, it’s one of the biggest compliments that Whiteside has gotten as a player. What’s most ironic about the situation is the fact that Sacramento wants to trade for Whiteside when they were the team who released him last before he went overseas and played basketball to get back into the league. In less than two years Whiteside has developed so much that they’d be willing to take him back.
Should the Heat trade Whiteside for Cousins if he’s on the table? Without a shadow of a doubt.
However, should Miami start entertaining trade options for Whiteside? According to Miami Heat President Pat Riley, he doesn’t think so either.
“I can guarantee you there have been no discussions about the BS that you have read in the newspapers the last couple of days. I like our team and I want to see where we’re headed. I don’t believe a lot of things I read about our team because I know we have it. We have that in us…We have a lot of great players, and I think as Coach brings them all together, I think this team can be very [formidable].”
Why would they need to? For the last five years, the weakest position of this team was the center and the point guard and they were equally tied. Fans were dying about the lack of rebounding that plagued the roster. Whiteside in his first year has alleviated many of Miami’s past problems including rebounding as he’s averaging a career-high 10.7 rebounds a game which are good enough for 6th in the league.
Additionally, the fact that Whiteside is a shot blocking menace can’t be stressed enough. When teams play against the Heat they have to game plan for Whiteside in the middle because they won’t be getting easy shot attempts at the rim. Whiteside is averaging a league-leading four blocks per game.
By the numbers, the best lineup for the Heat is Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic, Gerald Green and Justise Winslow. So that means Whiteside for as good as he is will even have to miss some of the crucial moments in games.
“Even when im on the bench with the crew, we’re always celebrating and having a good time,” said Whiteside. Those are the words from Whiteside after an 116-109 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Does that sound disgruntled player?
The Heat in third place and only two games out of the No. 1 seed. It’s not too much to get upset about. Meanwhile, Whiteside along with Wade, and Chris Bosh are on their way to making an All-Star game appearance. Let’s keep it in perspective, this team has a lot left to accomplish and Whiteside gives them the talent to do it.
D’Joumbarey A. Moreau covers sports in Miami-Dade & Broward County. You can follow him on Twitter@DJoumbarey.