Even after a season that ended badly and his playing time diminished, credit Hassan Whiteside for working diligently on his game.
His offseason included training with Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown; training with NBA centers Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe; hiring a personal trainer for the first time and refining his post moves.
On working out “a couple times” with Brown, Whiteside said Thursday: “Antonio Brown, seeing how he works, working out with him. He runs in the sand, that’s why nobody can guard him in the NFL.
“I really wanted to get faster, my lateral speed, my overall speed. That where I’ve been working out on the beach. The game is speeding up. I really want to be very mobile. You know, my body feels great. I was in that sand, I told them I got it from Antonio Brown. So there was different drills I was doing.”
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He also spent considerable time polishing post moves, primarily with assistant Juwan Howard.
“We watched a lot of post moves that get me in trouble,” he said. “We watched a lot of things that I can use and I can change up.
“My post moves are a little different now. A little more turnaround [stuff], a turnaround jumper. Instead of one dribble, doing two dribble spins.”
Whiteside said he also has been permitted to try corner threes for the first time — at least in informal practices — and “I feel very comfortable out there,” though it’s highly questionable if Miami will allow him to take that shot anytime soon. (He is 2 for 2 on threes in his career.)
Last year, he shot 69.9 percent at the rim but 31.1 percent (28 for 90) from 10 to 15 feet and 40.4 (19 for 47) from 16 feet to the three-point line.
Defensively, he hopes some of the work with the trainer – and the work with Brown – will translate into being more capable of defending wing players on defensive switches.
According to basketballreference.com technology, Whiteside ranked 52nd of 63 centers defensively when matched up against a guard on defense. By comparison, Bam Adebayo was 11th and Kelly Olynyk 29th. He believes improved health will make him more effective on defensive switches.
“ I love switching,” he said. “I take it like a challenge. I want to do that. I want to switch more and I want to build that confidence in everybody that I can do that. That’s why I said I really wanted to get faster, do band work, running on the beach. I mean, NBA guards can’t stay in front of guards, so it’s going to be tough when you’re 265 and you’re 7 feet tall.”
He said the Heat’s new defensive approach - modified only slightly - is “working great. It’s a little more switching, so it’s great. It’s just different reads. It’s just reads. I can stay around the rim.”
What most pleases him is he’s healthy after struggling with knee issues last season: “I can jump higher. I’m more mobile, more explosive.”
Whiteside said the fact he didn’t post a lot of his workouts this summer doesn’t mean they didn’t happen.
“It gets annoying after awhile,” he said. “Just because people don’t see it, they think it’s not happening. I even made a joke on social media, ‘I take showers every day, but you all never see ‘em.’ It’s just because guys are not showing it. I thought it was pretty funny what Damian Lillard did.
“I think fans want to see it, so I just post, post, post, post and all of a sudden it was like, ‘Man, you’re working out hard.’ I was like, ‘I’ve been doing it. I just haven’t been showing it.”
He did film one of the workouts: “I just told the training just film this one. I know NBA guys, they got film crews that follow them all over the place. I feel like that kind of overdoing. This is very genuine. I just maybe just show a fraction of the workout.”
Teammates remain hopeful this can end well here, after offseason trade talks did not lead to a deal.
“I know he’s going to get back [to where he was in 2016-17],” James Johnson said. “We know how to speak to Hassan and we know how get the best for Hassan. If he wants the best for himself, he will be best big man in league.”