MIAMI – Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside is used to being doubted, being snubbed.
But the latest poll, the annual General Manager’s survey, cut a little bit deeper.
League GM’s were asked 47 different questions. One of those: Who is the best center? Limited to one name, eight different players received at least one vote.
None named Hassan Whiteside.
So, what is Whiteside going to do about it?
“I’ll just keep killing their team,” he said about the GMs.
Whiteside said he doesn’t care what GMs think of him (outside of the Heat’s Andy Elisburg, of course, but GMs were not allowed to list players from their team on the survey).
“Four years ago, they didn’t think I could play in this league,” he said. “I care about what Pat Riley and Coach Spo think.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra was not pleased with the snub.
“That’s ridiculous,” he said. “I don’t care what anybody else says. Hassan is one of the best centers in this league. Fact. Period.
“I don’t think he necessarily cares about that like he did before. If he helps impact winning the way he did in the second half of last season all those awards will come his way. If he’s playing for the team, playing winning basketball, learning how to impact winning, being a great teammate, all those things are more important eventually anyway.”
The top four were Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, Memphis’ Marc Gasol and New Orleans’ DeMarcus Cousins. Four others received votes: Utah’s Rudy Gobert, the Warriors Draymond Green who shifts to center when Golden State goes small ball, Denver’s Nikola Jokic and the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan.
Spoelstra’s only explanation is that the Heat fell so far off the radar after starting 11-30 last season – one in which Whiteside led the league with 14.1 rebounds per game – by the time they recovered it was too late.
“We had such a bad record,” he said. “We weren’t on TV, no one was watching, nobody cared. People started noticing in the second half I’ll tell you that.”
Whiteside did make one list: The best defensive player in the league. Beyond the top three – San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, Green and Gobert – he was second (and last) among also receiving votes.
“He should be in immediate consideration for defensive player of the year,” Spoelstra said. “We had a top 5 defense last year and it really picked up after the All-Star break and he was a big reason for it.”
Whiteside averaged 17.9 points on .557 percent shooting and 2.1 blocks last season. He also was snubbed by Hoops Hype, which listed him as the sixth best center in the league behind Towns, Jokic, Cousins, Gobert and Gasol.
Yet, among all of those centers/power forwards listed, only Whiteside was in the top 3 in rebounding, scoring, field goal percentage and blocked shots.
There is some good news for Whiteside. All eight players listed on the GM survey (which includes the top five in the Hoops Hype rankings) play in the Western Conference. So Whiteside just may be considered the top center in the East, which means he could be ticketed for his first All-Star game.
“You look at their numbers and you look at your own numbers,” he said about his competition. “You look at what you do on the court and you look at what they do on the court. And then you look at how good they make their team. Are you on a winning team or are you the only one out there shooting 25, 30 shots a game.”