Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside feels he is being overlooked in All-Star voting, so much so that he made an interesting claim on Tuesday.
“You put my numbers up and just don’t put a face up there I feel like the (voting) numbers would be different,” said Whiteside, who dropped to 11th among Eastern Conference frontcourt players in voting released last week.
“Just my honest opinion. I feel like if you put a blackout screen and just put my numbers up there people (would say), ‘Oh, man, how is he not an All-Star?’ I feel like that’s what it is. Who likes who.”
But why does Whiteside feel that way? Is it because of Miami’s poor record?
“I feel like it’s a. … I don’t really know,” he said. “It’s one of those things I don’t really know. I don’t get caught up in that. I’m trying to get more wins for these guys. I get the All-Star questions, I know you all like to run with that story. There’s nothing I can do as far as being an All-Star.”
Whiteside leads the league in rebounding at 14.3 per game, is fifth in blocks at 2.16 and is averaging 17.5 points, third among centers in the East.
Of the 10 players ahead of him in All-Star voting, only one is a natural center, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, and two others, the Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis and Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson, are power forwards who receive some minutes at center.
In Whiteside’s defense, he averages more rebounds than Embiid (7.7), Porzingis (7.4) and Thompson (9.7), and more points than Thompson (7.3). Embiid is averaging 19.7 points, Porzingis 19.4.
NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced Thursday and the reserves – selected by coaches – will be named Jan. 26.
Meanwhile, the Heat is pushing Whiteside to have more of an impact on winning.
But entering Tuesday, Whiteside was averaging more points in losses (17.9) than wins (16.6) and is shooting better from both the field and the free-throw line in losses. He averages slightly more rebounds and substantially more blocks in wins.
The Heat is 3-13 when Whiteside scores 20 or more points and 2-10 when he has 20 points and 15 rebounds.
On the flip side, Miami is 2-5 when he scores in single digits, 0-5 when he rebounds in single digits and lost by 23 (to Detroit) in the only game when he failed to reach double figures in both points and rebounds.
Asked if could have done anything more that would result in the Heat having more wins, Whiteside said: “At the time, I did the most I could. It’s a team sport. Every team has stars.”
Asked if he has had enough impact games in his opinion, Whiteside said: “You want every game to be 20, 25, 10 blocks. I want that to be every game. Realistically speaking that’s not going to happen. Guys are scouting me very well. They watch film. They find ways to make it tough on me. I don’t have that lob threat with [Dwyane] Wade as much.”
Spoelstra’s challenge for Whiteside in the second half of the season: “Can you put together all of it, all of the details to truly impact winning. That will be the focus. Our margin for error is very thin. We’re in a lot of close games. If you want to use a multiplier effect if everybody did three or four plays better, harder with more detail more focus – we define those as the winning plays, those are the difference makers – and you multiply that throughout the rotation we would likely have more wins and sniffing at a playoff spot right now.”
Spoelstra said he’s prepared to use forward Okaro White, who signed a 10-day contract on Tuesday. He averaged 18.0 points and 8.9 rebounds in 21 games for Sioux Falls in the D-League.
“Defender, long, guards multiple positions,” Spoelstra said. “He was shooting six threes a game. His percentage is 30 percent. [He had] to defend the best player, wing, on the other team every night. That’s invaluable.”
• Guard Goran Dragic on what needs to change over the final 41 games: “Everybody needs to take more responsibility and do their job. Sometimes we need to be smarter.”
• Fox Sports Sun picked up the Feb. 27 Heat-at-Mavericks game, which was dropped last week by TNT… Spoelstra said center Willie Reed was cleared to return after missing a game with a bruised sternum.