Pat Riley has coached some of the most legendary NBA players in the history of the game, yet he says he’s never seen anyone do what Hassan Whiteside has done the past couple of seasons for the Miami Heat.
Originally a second-round pick out of Marshall, Whiteside languished on the tail end of a bad bench with the Sacramento Kings before landing with the Miami Heat for the 2014-15 season.
Since then, Whiteside has developed into the game’s most dominant shot-blocker and is emerging as one of the best all-around big men in the Association today.
Riley is more than impressed.
“I’ve never been around that kind of turnaround,” team president Pat Riley said this afternoon, via Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post. “We’ve had some players that we’ve opened our eyes up on, but I think what Hassan did last year and what he’s doing now, his level of play– it’s just all about more experience, more reps, understanding how important he is for us.”
Averaging 13.5 points, 11.7 rebounds and an astonishing 3.8 blocks per game, the seven-footer is setting himself up to become a very rich man with free agency pending after the season.
Understanding this, Riley, who is going to have a tough time not paying this kid a max contract, went on to pay him the ultimate compliment.
“But in my 50 years in the NBA, I have never seen that kind of phenomenon. I know this is hurting me right now as far as his free agency goes because I’m complimenting him, but he’s grown a lot.”
When an NBA coaching legend, who has been around the likes of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James, to name a few, says something like this you know you’ve arrived.
Whiteside certainly has, and he’ll soon be paid like it.