The love has been flowing for Miami Heat rookie Justise Winslow. At least for those who watch him regularly as opposed to the box-score watchers.
Not for his suspect shooting (24% 3FG) but for his stifling defense. The same cannot be said for teammate Hassan Whiteside, who may or may not be a Heat player next year after a rollercoaster season — he takes over some games and rides pine during others.
In an article penned on The Players’ Tribune, Winslow made a case for his seven-foot rim protector as an All-Star, with most of it revolving around the Heat center racking up four blocks per night.
And yet I somehow think he’s still a little underrated. Hassan gets love, definitely, but I don’t think people fully appreciate just how game-changing his shot-blocking presence can be during the course of a game. It’s not even the blocks themselves. Most of the time, honestly, it’s just the idea of his blocks, the fear that a block might be coming, that is enough to tilt a play in our favor.
Like: I’ve seen really good teams overhaul entire offensive sets because of Hassan. I’ve seen world-class shooters sense Hassan in their periphery and rush up a quick one (they always miss). I’ve seen big-time dunkers hear Hassan’s footsteps and suddenly get shook, mid-air, and hit ’em with the fadeaway. I’m telling you: It’s crazy what teams are willing to do to avoid Hassan. And don’t get me wrong, I get it. I’d do it, too.
Whiteside is ninth in voting among frontcourt players in the Eastern Conference, meaning he’s highly unlikely to get voted in as a starter, with voting ending tonight.
Coaches in the conference can still vote Whiteside in as a reserve and the same goes for Chris Bosh, who’s having a stellar bounce-back season.