The Miami Heat have gotten an unexpected boost from a player they signed in late November.
Center Hassan Whiteside was out of the NBA after being waived by the Memphis Grizzlies before the season even began. Before that, Whiteside spent the majority of his career toiling in the D-League and playing overseas in China and Lebanon.
After the Grizzlies cut him, Whiteside told ESPN he spent his time at his local YMCA waiting for another chance:
“Three months ago I was at the downtown Y just chilling, working on my game. I couldn’t get a team to pick up the phone.”
Even after signing with Miami, he was assigned to the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the D-League. Now, after rejoining the Heat in mid-December, he’s been one of the team’s best players.
On Sunday, Whiteside recorded a triple-double with 14 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 blocks in just 25 minutes off the bench in a victory over the Bulls. It was the quickest triple-double with blocks in NBA history.
The Bulls shot just 35% for the game, partly because Whiteside was turning away anybody who entered the paint:
Early in 2015, he said he turned down bigger contract offers overseas to try to make it in the NBA:
“It wasn’t about the money. That’s why I went to the D-League. I said, ‘I’m going to give it all I got this year and just try to make it back to the NBA.’ It’s paying off right now. I could’ve gone to China and signed a contract, but I really had to dig deep.”
Through nine games in January, Whiteside is averaging 21 minutes, 12 points, 8.6 rebounds, and four blocks per game. Prior to this season, his career averages were 1.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in just 19 total games.
After his huge triple-double on Sunday, Whiteside also provided a fantastic quote about his true motivator this season, his video game rating.
“I’m just trying to really get my NBA2K rating up,” he said.
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