Video: Hassan Whiteside Goes For 24 Points, 20 Boards, Hits First 11 Shots

When is the sample size big enough? There’s no concrete answer – it varies on a case-by-case basis concerning a multitude of factors specific to the subject at hand. One month of games, for instance, normally wouldn’t be enough for us to glean major long-term opinions on a player’s fate. But Hassan Whiteside isn’t most players, and his recent dominance for the Miami Heat deserves a different kind of scrutiny.

After Wednesday’s 24-point (12-of-13 FGs!), 20-rebound masterpiece against the Minnesota Timberwolves, we’re comfortable saying that the question is no longer whether or not Whiteside has the talent to be an impact player on a nightly basis. That’s obvious. But now we wonder if he has the drive to sustain his recent play over full seasons. And if he does, the next step from an analysis standpoint is considering just how great he could ultimately be.

Full video highlights of his performance versus the ‘Wolves supports that latter assessment with eye-opening aplomb:

What immediately sticks out about Whiteside is his sheer size. A true seven-footer with arms for days, he’s worked hard to bulk up to approximately 265 pounds over recent years. He’s no string-bean, and that’s clear while watching him play.

He not only moves opposing big men with ease on the block and while grappling for rebounds, but also maintains stability while off-balance that players his size normally can’t. But that unique sense of balance only helps so much – Whiteside would merely be another rim-running pick-and-roll dive man if he didn’t have the touch to supplement it. And while any team could use a player of Tyson Chandler’s offensive merit, Whiteside’s might extend further.

He frequently finishes from positions that bely his status as behemoth. Whiteside can score around the basket off one or two feet; squared-up or from the side; and fully extended or crunched by contact. Considering that rare ability, any back-to-basket or isolation scoring would simply be a bonus. But the 25 year-old has flashed hooks, spins, and deep turnarounds over the past few games, too. That’s the stuff we still doubt becomes commonplace, but if it does? Whiteside’s ceiling is nearly limitless.

For now, though, the Heat should be pinching themselves for finding who just routinely makes plays like this (H/T Couper Moorhead):

Note that Whiteside starts on the high end of Nikola Pekovic. He’s quick enough to get even with the Montenegrin strongman as the shot goes up, then bullies him back ever so slightly to get in position for a board. And look how he corrals it – one-handed! And then’s he’s skilled and agile enough to immediately rise for a layup.

Awesome, awesome stuff from Whiteside here, and the kind that’s easily overlooked during a 48-minute game. But he’s made many similar plays throughout his meteoric rise to become Miami’s starting center – enough that we’re no longer surprised by them, and enough that we’ve begun to ponder not if Whiteside is a good player, but just how good he’ll end up being.

(Video via Dawk Ins)

What do you think?

Follow Jack on Twitter at @ArmstrongWinter.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.