Count center Hassan Whiteside’s continued evolution among the few bright spots for the Heat in April.
Whiteside is averaging 19.7 points and 15.7 rebounds in his past three games, and the Heat has run more plays for him in the post.
He equaled a career high with 24 points against Orlando on Monday on 10-of-14 shooting. He’s shooting 68.1 percent from the field during the past seven games.
Whiteside said he is “really proud” of his offensive development.
“Just the fact they’re throwing the ball to me,” he said. “[Dwyane] Wade … [and] Luol Deng [are] giving up [their] shot to throw it to me in the post. I really feel like the team is believing in me.”
Said Goran Dragic: “I still think he can be one of the main dominant centers in this league. Hopefully, he will keep improving.”
After missing 12 of 16 free throws against Toronto, Whiteside changed his free-throw motion with the help of assistant coach Juwan Howard and made 4 of 5 on Monday.
“I can play with that for the rest of my career,” he said.
Whiteside will spend much of this summer working out at AmericanAirlines Arena and at a YMCA in Charlotte, North Carolina, not far from his home in Gastonia, North Carolina.
“It’s going to be a big summer for me,” Whiteside said. “My last couple of summers I had to go to China, I had to go to Lebanon. I had to go over here.
“This is really the first summer I can get with some coaches and actually work on my game and actually get on a program where I can lift weights and become a better basketball player.”
A top candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award, Whiteside posted on Instagram on Tuesday: “I know one thing. I won the most improve life award. I’m Bless !!!!! And hater continue to hate Just make sure you spell my name right. I been doubted and looked over my whole life. I’m [used] to it.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Deng, who has a player option for $10.1 million for next season, said he has not thought about whether he will exercise it. “I love this organization,” the forward said. “Everything has been great for me overall.”
But because he relies a lot on moving without the ball for his offense, he said the lineup turnover has made the season “difficult. It’s been very hard to be consistent. I haven’t found a consistent way to come in every night and knowing exactly what I’m doing.”
▪ For NBAstore.com’s overall retail sales since the start of the season, the Heat finished eighth among all franchises. Chicago was No. 1. Dwyane Wade ranked ninth in jersey sales, behind LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Tim Duncan and Carmelo Anthony.