Hassan Whiteside may have ventured into a battle he can't win. The Heat big man made a name for himself last year as a finisher at the rim and shot-blocking machine. He's a prototypical big man, hoping to expand what was once a career on the outskirts into being one of the top centers in the league.
Whiteside took issue with the talk about "smallball" and asserted on Twitter that it "only works on centers who can't score. He said he wants to see a team try and guard him with someone 6-foot-6.
Well, guess who took notice and responded? The 6-7 archetype of the new smallball explosion/fad, and NBA champion, Draymond Green.
Can you score doe? Bigs becoming dinosaurs— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) August 26, 2015
That's a pretty strong response, and it does show that Green really does believe in the smallball idea. I have a question: How does Andrew Bogut feel about that comment from Draymond Green? But Whiteside wasn't through:
Whiteside was very good in the post last year, shooting 51 percent... but on just 100 attempts. He's not exactly the "let's feed him and watch the big man go to work" guy for Miami. And then Draymond pulled out the "I just got paid $82 million card."
82 million reasons to flop and the d league ain't never been 1!!!! But keep wearing shirts chasing that 2k rating #thefinerthings— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) August 26, 2015
That's a disproportionate response, referencing Whiteside's time in the D-League. However, it's a salient point. Green has proven himself over the past three seasons to be a very valuable NBA player and a vital element of the NBA champion Warriors. He helped dramatically alter how the league thinks of smallball (though it has been used for decades and started to gain prominence with the Heat in 2012). Whiteside, meanwhile, had one good stretch of just over half a season for Miami, and while his numbers were out of this world, they also don't seem as sustainable. There are questions about whether he can build on that and become a consistent NBA player, let alone a star. Green is already certified, established.
More than anything this shows that the smallball debate is one being held not only with the media and fans, but among the players. The bigs will protect their turf, the smalls will claim the ground is shifting beneath their massive feet.
The Heat and Warriors first face each other January 11th at Oracle Arena. Get your popcorn.