SLAM Top 50: Hassan Whiteside, No. 37

With Whiteside at center, the Heat is likely heading back to the playoffs in '17-18.

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Young Whiteside stays rising.

Twenty-eight years old and Miami’s current king, Hassan Whiteside’s seemingly unlimited potential still somehow feels as though it’s barely tapped. In fact, the kid is only growing stronger.

Since joining the Heat in 2014, the 7-foot Whiteside has breathed new life into South Beach and increased his on-court production nearly across the board. During his first season as a full-time starter last year, he penciled in 17 points, 14 boards and 2 blocks per game, all while leading the League in rebounds. That’s a year removed from leading the League in swats with an absurd 3.7 per contest.

In the process, he’s also become the new cornerstone of a franchise who’s already put three banners into the rafters.

AND THAT’S NOT EVEN MENTIONING HIS SNAPCHAT.

Sidebar: Hassan Whiteside might have the best social media flow in the game. Blessings to Richard Jefferson and LBJ, but the man took us all on a free guided tour of the Louvre Museum, and moonlighted as a detective in a very delicate parrot investigation. The case still appears to be unsolved, but that’s creative range, folks. On and off the court.

Back to the matter at hand.

What makes Whiteside so dangerous–and why we expect him to rise up the SLAM Top 50 even more after this season–is that he influences and changes the game from all over the floor.

Where a younger Whiteside might have hunted for blocks on any given possession, he now operates more within the team defensive scheme without sacrificing the presence and shot blocking instincts that have made him so valuable. And as he continues to improve and add to his post move arsenal on the low block, we’re also beginning to see a player who’s gaining more confidence shooting outside the paint. Because he cannot be left unwatched or unmanned on either side of the ball, and because he can cover 94 feet in what feels like three steps, he has become a matchup terror on the nightly. This is a guy who once dropped a triple-double (with blocks) in 25 minutes off the bench, and who corralled at least 18 boards in three of Miami’s final five games to finish last year out.

This year, he might also just help push the Heat right back into the postseason, where they just barely missed out on back in April. With new frontcourt reinforcements in Kelly Olynyk and rookie Bam Adebayo set to ease some pressure off Whiteside’s shoulders, expect coach Erik Spoelstra to feature him even more this season.

There’s no doubt that maximum Whiteside is going to be very fun to watch.

But if all that, or his freshly minted 87 rating on 2K18 doesn’t convince you, may I please direct your attention to this lovely video of Hassan becoming increasingly annoyed by a dancing hotdog.

So. Much. Range.

Previous Rankings:
2016: No. 34
2015: Not Ranked
2014: Not Ranked
2013: Not Ranked

Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2017-18—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.

No. 50 – Dion Waiters
No. 49 – Ben Simmons 
No. 48 – Brook Lopez
No. 47 — Harrison Barnes
No. 46 — Jrue Holiday
No. 45 — Lonzo Ball
No. 44 — Myles Turner
No. 43 — Goran Dragic
No. 42 — Andre Drummond
No. 41 — Al Horford
No. 40 — LaMarcus Aldridge
No. 39 — Kevin Love
No. 38 — Paul Millsap

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