No Heat player expressed his excitement for Dwyane Wade’s return more enthusiastically last week than Hassan Whiteside.
A few moments after finding out, Whiteside walked off the Heat’s practice court yelling, “D-Waaaaaaaaaaade!”
And who could blame him.
No one assisted Whiteside on lobs for dunks or scores in the paint during his first two seasons with the Heat more than Dwyane Wade.
So will having Wade back mean a better, more productive Whiteside?
He definitely thinks so.
The pair went 1 for 2 on lob attempts Friday against the Bucks in their first game together in nearly two seasons.
Goran Dragic has assisted Whiteside the most this season (39 times), with 27 of those makes in the restricted area.
“I think [Wade] puts a lot of pressure on people’s defenses,” Whiteside said. “Me as a big man, it’s stressful too. When you got a big man who can score in the post, who can get offensive rebounds and catch lobs, and I’ve been shooting the mid-range. So it’s really stressful just adding that extra dimension, especially since I don’t even need a step to catch a lob. It’s hard to take a body off of me.”
During the 2014-15 season (his first with the Heat), Whiteside was assisted by Wade 41 times overall with 39 successful lobs into the restricted area. Dragic had the next highest total with 18 assists to Whiteside, including 14 in the restricted area.
The following season, Wade assisted Whiteside 92 times with 84 makes in the restricted area — ahead of Dragic’s 65 (50 near the rim). In the playoffs that year, Wade also had the most with 13 (11 near the rim).
“His IQ is amazing,” Whiteside said after the win over the Bucks. “He knows when to look at the spots and when to throw it and make the right decisions. I told him, it’s been a while since I had one at the top of the key like that. He caught me off guard. But once we got the full of things, it was good.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra valued the importance of Wade’s great timing with Whiteside and developing a similar type of chemistry with rookie Bam Adebayo, who missed a dunk attempt, but recovered and scored after Wade found him with a lob.
“Wade is a Hall of Fame playmaker and decision maker,” Spoelstra said. “A lot of the things that we’re working on with our young players, Dwyane has been doing that for longer than these guys have been in this league. It comes naturally to him.
“That’s been one of the most underrated parts of Wade’s game his entire career, his playmaking, his unselfishness, his passing, his vision and the timing of his passing is at a Hall of Fame level. He makes it look easy. He makes it look easier than it actually is.”