Being overlooked is nothing new for Hassan Whiteside.
So when results from the NBA’s preseason annual survey of general managers released Wednesday morning didn’t have his name among the league’s best centers, Whiteside’s reaction was pretty clear.
"I’ll just keep killing whatever team they’re on," Whiteside said. "I'll just keep killing their teams."
Whiteside was one of five players to receive a vote for the league’s best defensive players. But he was not among the eight centers that received votes for the best players at their position.
Whiteside led the NBA in rebounding last season averaging 14.1 per game and ranked fourth in blocks per game (2.10). He also ranked fourth in scoring among centers (17.0 points per game) behind only Karl-Anthony Towns (25.1), Brook Lopez (20.5) and Marc Gasol (19.5).
Whiteside, however, did not receive any votes for the league’s best interior defender as he did a year ago after he went from being the league’s leading shot blocker in 2015-16 to fourth last year.
"I didn’t see that [survey], but that’s ridiculous," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I don’t care what anybody else says. Hassan is one of the best centers in this league. Fact. Period."
Whiteside, who has been vocal about being overlooked for accolades in the past, said he isn’t surprised anymore when it happens.
"I don't care what them GM thinks," Whiteside said. "Four years ago, they didn't think I could play in this league. I care about what Pat Riley and Coach Spo think."
Whiteside said Wednesday he relies more on self-motivation than dwelling on any perceived slights.
"I kind of draw from myself," Whiteside said. "If I listened to everybody around me, I would never have come back from Lebanon, China, being cut four-plus time. I just kind of always draw from myself and that self-wish and I know the player I can be."
Spoelstra thinks the Heat’s poor start had a definite effect on executives not taking notice of his performance last season.
Whiteside’s averages in points and rebounds improved after the All-Star break and had a noticeable impact on the Heat flipping its record from 11-30 in the first half to 30-11 in the second.
"We had such a bad record [in the first half]," Spoelstra said. "We weren’t on TV, no one was watching, nobody cared.
"Hassan keeps on improving. What he does is really unique. He’s a dominant defensive player that makes your entire team defense better, and he’s as impactful as any center in the league offensively. If we win, he’ll get more recognition. But he’s a top center and he’s a top defensive player from my standpoint."
Spoelstra said Wednesday if Whiteside continues to build off what he’s accomplished the past three years, the league will have to take notice.
"I don’t think he necessarily cares about that like he did before," Spoelstra said. "If he helps impact winning the way he did in the second half of last season all those awards will come his way. If he’s playing for the team, playing winning basketball, learning how to impact winning, being a great teammate, all those things are more important eventually anyway."