2016-17 Miami Heat Season Preview: Hassan’s Time to Shine

With Wade and Bosh out of the picture, it’s all on Hassan Whiteside to keep the Heat competitive. Can he do it?

Last season by the numbers

  • Record: 48-34 (4th East)
  • Offensive rating: 104.2 (12th)
  • Defensive rating: 101.6 (7th)
  • Pace: 95.7 (25th)
  • True shooting: 54.5% (12th)
  • Turnover rate: 13.3% (18th)
  • Offensive rebounding: 23.8% (17th)
  • Defensive rebounding: 77.8% (6th)
  • Giveashitameter: 6th
  • Highest PER*: 25.7 (Whiteside)

(*) – minimum 1,000 minutes.

At a glance

(Converts the above rankings into a rating out of 10).

mia

Recap

A lot of people didn’t realise it, but the Heat became Hassan Whiteside’s team last season as he posted the league’s 8th best PER (25.7).

Let’s be clear about this:

  • first there was Steph;
  • then Durant;
  • then BOBAN! (who barely played the 500 minute minimum to qualify – far too small a sample size);
  • then Lebron and Westbrook (tied);
  • then CP3;
  • then Leonard…

Then Hassan freaking Whiteside.

And it wasn’t a fluke: he posted a PER of 26.2 in 1,142 minutes the season before – before backing it up last season over 2,125 minutes of play.

So why was everyone a bit down on him? Attitude issues aside, people mainly criticised Whiteside’s defensive awareness and ability to play in a team scheme. However, this all proved to be nonsense as he led the Heat both in defensive win shares and defensive box plus/minus… comfortably. The Heat also had the league’s 7th best overall defense, so he must have been parking his ass in the right places enough of the time.

As far as the Heat’s overall defense was concerned, they did a great job at forcing opponents into mid-range jump shots as they ranked:

  • 3rd on three point attempts allowed; and
  • 5th on free throw attempts allowed.

While these rankings need to be taken with a small grain of salt given the Heat’s 25th ranking on pace, the overall point still remains.

When opponents were able to get a three up, the Heat more or less kept them to league average accuracy (34.7%, ranked 12th). And when opponents decided to take it to the rack, they met the Heat’s little friend Hassan – who blocked an obscene 8.7% of all opponent offerings which played no small part in the Heat ranking number one in the league in blocks.

The only area the Heat struggled with on defense was in forcing turnovers, where they ranked 27th.

The offense was a bit more of a struggle (albeit slightly above average overall) as the Heat ranked 12th. The main issue was that they relied too much on Wade to create shots – as he chewed up 30.5% of the team’s possessions (ranked 8th in the whole league) and produced at an awful true shooting efficiency of 51.7% (56th out of 77 shooting guards).

While Wade was still playing at a borderline All-star level overall (20.3 PER), you really want your 30.0%+ usage guys to be playing at a superstar PER level (25.0 and above) – and that usually requires a true shooting percentage of at least 55.0%.

The likes of Dragic (TS 53.7%), Green (TS 49.1%) and Winslow (48.9%) didn’t help things along either.

Given the cavalcade of horrible guard and wing shooters, it came as no surprise that the Heat ranked 27th in three point accuracy.

Whiteside was brilliant of course (TS 62.9% – 2nd among centers), albeit he only used 20.7% of the team’s possessions when on the court (league average). It remains to be seen whether he can produce at the same level if and when he takes on a greater role on offense.

Also holding the offense back was the ball handling, which ranked 18th overall. Dragic (46th out of 77 point guards) was the main culprit and will need to pull his socks up this coming season.

Reasons to be optimistic

Willie Reed was a fantastic pickup for $2m over two years. He posted a PER of 19.2 for the Nets last season and could play a major role in filling the void left by Bosh. Why the Nets let him go given his bargain price is a mystery no surprise whatsoever.

Derrick Williams had a quietly solid season for the Knicks last year, posting a PER of 17.3. While he’s a poor defender, he knows how to create buckets and represents good value for $4.5 million for this season.

Hassan Whiteside is a highly productive beast down low and will be given his chance to shine this season without Wade and Bosh eating up all the possessions (to be fair, Bosh was very efficient).

A lot of people scoffed at Tyler Johnson’s 4 year, $50 million dollar contract. However, the kid ain’t bad (13.8 PER last season), has plenty of potential for improvement and may be able to shoot some threes (38.0% last season).

(I’ll wait while you go look up who the fuck Tyler Johnson is)…

Reasons not to be

Bosh’s career could well be over. If this is ultimately the case, the Heat will be without an All-star level contributor. Not good.

With or without Bosh, the Heat aren’t even close to being contenders. A tear down and rebuild is imminent. The main problem is that Riley sold his soul to get Dragic as he gave away the Heat’s:

  • top 7 protected 2018 pick (which becomes unprotected in 2019 if it doesn’t convey); and

While Wade certainly isn’t worth $40 million for the next two years, he’s still a very good player who still more or less plays at an All-star level. His production will be missed as far as winning now is concerned.

The Heat still won’t have any decent three point shooting this season.

Dion Waiters is on the roster.

Major Ins 

Willie Reed, Derrick Williams, Dion Waiters.

Major Outs

Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh.

The Dunkyard’s recommended ‘death’ lineup

  • Dragic
  • Johsnon
  • Winslow
  • Reed
  • Whiteside

Dave’s lowdown

This team is one of my favourites for the annual Faith No More sponsored* “You Come From Out Of Nowhere” award, following on from recent winners Phoenix (2013-14), Atlanta (2014-15) and Portland (2015-16), which honours the team that makes us wonder “Where the hell did they come from?”.

The combination of Dragic (a previous winner with Phoenix) having the ball back in his favourite place – his hands – after the departure of Wade, with the very real probability of an 18-15-5 season from Whiteside, has me feeling this team may be ready to spring a surprise or two in a wide-open Eastern Conference.

On a separate note, the Chris Bosh situation is not going to work out well for anybody, especially Bosh himself. Chris, you have nothing left to prove as a player. Retirement is the best option for you and your family. The basketball world doesn’t need another Reggie Lewis.

*Faith No More are in no way involved with the sponsorship of this award.

Forecast record: 40-42

The mind says the losses of Bosh and Wade inevitably must lead to regression for the Heat. That said, Dragic and Whiteside are far from chopped liver, while Reed looks like a very underrated pickup. If Winslow can find a way to show up on offense, then maybe these guys won’t be so bad.