To launch or not to launch – that is the question.
When Hassan Whiteside said this summer he wanted to expand his game to the three-point line – because he could – Heat fans almost in unison raised their eyebrows like The Rock.
Entering Friday night’s game against the Nuggets, Whiteside is a perfect 2-for-2 from beyond the arc with a three-pointer made in each of his first two games this season.
Is this new added element really going to be a part of his game moving forward?
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“I don’t know,” Whiteside responded Friday when asked if his plan is to make a three every night. “If I’m out there, I’ll shoot it. But I try to shoot it in the context of the game.
“I know Coach Spo wants me to just be a paint-dominant center. You know, I enjoy being in the paint a lot. Whatever. If they keep just looking at me, I’m going to keep shooting.”
Whiteside is right. Spoelstra isn’t a fan of his three-point shooting.
Asked before Friday’s game how he feels about Whiteside’s three-point stroke, Spoelstra replied: “I’d like to see him lead the league in three-point shooting percentage. He can just stop right now. I’d be fine with that.”
But Whiteside’s teammates really believe his three-point stroke can be a weapon.
James Johnson said after practice Thursday Whiteside deserves the chance to shoot threes if he feels confident enough to do it.
Friday, Goran Dragic jumped on that train.
“I said to the guys we should run some last-second play for him,” Dragic said. “Nobody is going to expect it. Maybe he sets a screen for me, I curl, I set a screen back out for him and he just pops out and fires it. But yeah, everybody was surprised when he took that three [against Chicago Wednesday]. He made it and everybody was laughing.
“He’s got a soft touch you know. He’s demonstrated that in the past. Of course we want him in the paint. That’s where he’s at his best. But you never know. Maybe sometime you’re going to have to shoot that long, last-second shot and he’s got that ability to make those.”
Wayne Ellington said Whiteside has definitely proved to him he can shoot the three. But he’s more in Spoelstra’s corner.
“He’s 2-for-2,” Ellington said. “I told him keep it like that.”