Not among top 5 centers; Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside using snub as motivation

MIAMI – Hassan Whiteside believes he is one of the top centers in the NBA. And why not considering in consecutive seasons he led the league in blocks with 3.7 per game (2015-16) and rebounding with 14.1 per game (last season).

But others aren’t so sure. In fact, one outlet doesn’t have Whiteside listed among the top 5 centers in the league. And yet, there is some good news with the rankings.

Heat center Hassan Whiteside goes up for a shot against Atlanta Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon during Sunday’s preseason game in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Whiteside is listed as the sixth-best center in the NBA according to Hoops Hype behind Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Denver’s Nikola Jokic, New Orleans’ DeMarcus Cousins, Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Memphis’ Marc Gasol.

Yet, among those listed, only Whiteside was in the top 3 in rebounding, scoring (17.9), field goal percentage (.557) and blocked shots (2.1).

But what do the top five have in common? All are from the Western Conference.

By these rankings, Whiteside is the top center in the East and would be ticketed for his first All-Star game.

Whiteside was asked if he uses those rankings for motivation.

“Of course,” said the 28-year-old. “People have been telling me all my life I can’t play in the NBA. Then they tell me I’ll never play on the Heat and get minutes. It’s always some people saying things negative. I try to use it as motivation and get better.”

Whiteside has had a steady, yet quiet preseason, one in which point guard Goran Dragic says he is really applying his stamp to the team.

“He was dunking the ball, dunking over people,” Dragic said about training camp. “You can see he’s really embraced him his role, he’s really the force of this team.”

Whiteside played 19 minutes in the Heat’s preseason opener Sunday with eight points, 11 rebounds and a block in the win over Atlanta.

“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.”

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