Some people have compared Heat center Hassan Whiteside’s game to that of Los Angeles Clippers star and 2016 first-team All-NBA player DeAndre Jordan.
Whiteside is not one of those people.
In fact, Whiteside rejected that notion as if it were a weak floater put up by … well … you.
“No,” Whiteside said Thursday when asked about Jordan and whether their games are similar. “He catches lobs. I shoot jumpers, catch lobs, block shots. I do a lot. He just catches lobs.”
The next lob thrown Jordan’s way will likely be defended by Whiteside on Friday night, when the two star centers face each other at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Both teams are on mini-win streaks, even though their records are exact opposites. The Clippers (19-7) have won three games in a row. The Heat (9-17) has won two in a row.
The tale of the tape between the big men shows a lot of similarities.
Whiteside, a 27-year-old from North Carolina, is 7-0, 265 pounds. He shoots 53.7 percent on free throws.
Jordan, a 28-year-old native of Texas, is 6-11, 265 pounds. He shoots 54.1 percent on free throws.
Both men entered the league as second-round picks. Jordan was the 35th overall pick in 2008. Whiteside was picked 33rd in 2010.
There are significant differences, however:
Jordan has spent his entire career with the Clippers while Whiteside has played with 10 teams, most of them in leagues other than the NBA.
Despite the relatively late start to finding his niché, Whiteside has better numbers than Jordan this season in a few key areas, averaging 17.6 points, 14.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. Jordan is averaging 11.7 points, 12.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks.
However, Jordan shoots 65 percent from the floor. Whiteside, who has indeed expanded his game beyond dunks, shoots 54.2 percent from the floor.
Perhaps that’s why Whiteside treated questions about Jordan with such disdain.
“It doesn’t really matter to me who I’m playing,” Whiteside said. “I don’t pay attention to any other center. I’m still trying to beat 12 blocks. I’m just trying to compete against Whiteside every day.”
Whiteside set his career high for a single game with 11 blocks last season against the Denver Nuggets, and that makes 12 the number he would next like to attain.
Beating the Clippers, though, is still the main task. Los Angeles won both meetings with Miami last season.
However, Jordan missed the first matchup and Whiteside played in a reserve role, averaging just 22 minutes in those two games.
This time, Whiteside is the focal point of the Heat’s plans. He is not only a starter but also has a four-year, $98 million contract as tangible proof of his value.
But while there is no denying Whiteside’s value — he led the league in blocks last season and leads the NBA in rebounds this time around — the notion that he doesn’t pay attention to other centers is likely a fib.
He notices Jordan’s game, and he couldn’t resist taking one more subtle jab at his Friday night counterpart.
“[Jordan’s] got CP3 as a point guard — a great North Carolina point guard, I’d like to add,” Whiteside said.
Translation: Jordan is made to look good because he has Chris Paul, a nine-time NBA All-Star, throwing him easy passes at the rim.
Heat small forward Justise Winslow, who returned to the rotation on Wednesday after missing 16 consecutive games with a sprained shooting wrist, said he’s in great shape physically.
“I haven’t been tired in a while,” Winslow said Thursday.
His game, however, is not quite in great shape, and neither is his wrist.
Asked what bothers him the most about his wrist, Winslow said:
“I’m not going to tell you.”
Asked if his wrist is still healing, Winslow said:
“It’s not 100 percent.”
No smiles from Winslow, although he did loosen up a bit when asked about the guys he played with on Wednesday: Tyler Johnson, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Josh Richardson.
“It’s a good group,” said Winslow, who started the Heat’s first nine games this season but is now being challenged to work his way back onto the first unit. “Me and [James Johnson] are capable of guarding most positions. That makes it easy guarding those bigs.
“And it’s a nightmare for them defensively on us.”
Friday: Clippers at Heat
When/where: 8 p.m.; AmericanAirlines Arena.
TV/radio: SUN; WAXY 790, WAQI 710 (Spanish).
Series: Heat leads 32-22.
Scouting report: Heat guard Tyler Johnson missed Thursday’s practice because of illness and is listed as questionable. … The Clippers, 10-3 on the road this season, are the only team in the league ranked in the top five in both offensive and defensive rating.