Fresh chal­lenge now for White­side

Heat want more points from cen­ter

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - SPORTS - By Ira Win­der­man Staff writer

MI­AMI — The ini­tial chal­lenge to Has­san White­side this week came from Erik Spoel­stra, of what the Mi­ami Heat coach would like to see next from his lengthy big man.

“Cer­tainly,” Spoel­stra said, “his abil­ity to post up ef­fi­ciently within the con­text of an of­fense and to be able to make the right reads and to be able to have a con­sis­tent go-to move down there.

“That will re­quire sweat eq­uity and putting in the time in the gym.”

Then, two days later, an­other chal­lenge was is­sued, this time by Heat Pres­i­dent Pat Ri­ley . . . and it might have been is­sued as much to coach as to cen­ter.

Dis­cussing howthe player he re­warded with a four-year, $98 mil­lion con­tract last July could take the next step, Ri­ley men­tioned White­side in­creas­ing his scor­ing av­er­age from 17 to 25 points go­ing for­ward, among other sta­tis­ti­cal jumps.

“And,” Ri­ley said, “I think he can be that.” With a caveat. “But,” Ri­ley said, “you have to carve out some­thing more for him of­fen­sively.”

This was the rare time when White­side as a scorer be­came a Heat talk­ing point with­out

White­side do­ing the talk­ing.

Just a week ear­lier, as the Heat were fall­ing short in their scram­ble for a play­off berth, the fo­cus had turned to the Heat’s late-game ap­proach, with lim­ited touches for White­side in those sit­u­a­tions.

Now the ques­tions have turned to whether White­side has to show more to be re­warded with those op­por­tu­ni­ties, or whether a vol­ume of touches will pro­vide its own re­ward.

“We’re go­ing to need a cham­pi­onship cen­ter,” Ri­ley said. “I think he has the ca­pa­bil­ity of be­ing that. I do think that now we know him across the board in ev­ery as­pect and he also un­der­stands his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

“Erik and I, we dis­cuss a lot of things about Has­san and how he can bet­ter help us.”

That’s when Ri­ley men­tioned carv­ing out more for White­side, with post-first hav­ing been Ri­ley’s ap­proach while coach­ing Ka­reem Ab­dul-Jab­bar, Pa­trick Ewing, Alonzo Mourn­ing and Shaquille O’Neal.

“Once you feed him that, he may be able to go there,” Ri­ley said of White­side in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity through in­creased touches, “but you have to put him in that po­si­tion. I think he has the abil­ity to put up big­ger num­bers.

“Will those big­ger num­bers equal wins? That’s what we have to get out of him. We have to get that kind of per­for­mance out of him.”

And, Ri­ley said, the per­for­mances have to come in the big­gest mo­ments.

“We have to those 30 and 20 and 10 nights out of him five times a year,” Ri­ley said. “And you have to get him on those nights we play big games.”

To Spoel­stra, those op­por­tu­ni­ties can come or­gan­i­cally. Through or­ganic growth.

“He was emo­tion­ally in­vested in the well-be­ing of his team­mates and re­ally wanted his team­mates to suc­ceed,” Spoel­stra said of a ma­jor stride al­ready taken. “That then trans­lated into him re­ally want­ing to im­pact win­ning and to dom­i­nate the paint on both ends for his team­mates. That was pow­er­ful. That also cat­a­pulted into an ex­tremely high level of bas­ket­ball.

“We want to con­tinue to lever­age that. Yes, he had a lot of teach­able mo­ments. He had some very toughlove teach­able mo­ments the first cou­ple of years, some of that this year, but more growth in other ar­eas in want­ing his team to win and learn­ing how to help the team win and all the de­tail ar­eas and ef­fort and dis­ci­pline ar­eas.”

The views on how that hap­pens might be di­ver­gent, but the goals re­main com­mon: The Heat take the next step when White­side makes the next step.

“He can be as good as he com­mits and wants to be,” Spoel­stra said. “That’s ex­cit­ing for this fran­chise and I don’t see any rea­son why he can’t con­tinue to im­prove the way he has each of the last three years.”

“We’re go­ing to need a cham­pi­onship cen­ter. I think he has the ca­pa­bil­ity of be­ing that. ...” Pat Ri­ley, Heat pres­i­dent


Has­san White­side can get into the mid-20s scor­ing per game, ac­cord­ing to pres­i­dent Pat Ri­ley.

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