What's Next? 2016-17 Miami Heat: After The Come-Up

By now, NBA season previews are rolling out. Countless basketball sites, podcasts, and television shows are breaking down all 30 teams; projecting how each will fare based on additions and subtractions. I would like to do something different and focus on teams through the fish-eyed lens of their respective most-intriguing player or players. I continue with the Miami Heat.

It's a nice feeling to be sought after. The late Teddy Pendegrass once crooned the lyric, "It's so good loving somebody, when somebody loves you back." That's a fact. Even for someone like me, who's more unassuming than flashy, I like when my talents and works are noticed. This is exponentially true when said admiration comes with monetary benefit. In other words, I would like to be paid for good performance. Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside experienced this courtship over the summer, ultimately re-signing with the Heat for $98 million for the next four seasons.

Whiteside was a high second-round pick of Sacramento that didn't get an initial shot to contribute to a roster. His story of being in the local YMCA working on his game is well-documented. The Heat signed him to a minimal contract in the 2014-15 season, and he proceeded to block or alter nearly any shot attempt near the rim.

No one calls him Agent Block. (Source: Heat Zone)
No one calls him Agent Block. (Source: Heat Zone)

After two seasons of highly productive play at the center position, and still just being only 27, Whiteside was rewarded with that lucrative contract. But as I've stated before, the most overlooked element of contracts is that they are more about what a player will do than what he has done. As good as Whiteside has been, the numbers suggest that he, as a second-round pick, will not be great; and if he becomes great, it will be for a short term.

I liken him to Gilbert Arenas. Agent Zero was supremely confident in his abilities. He even bet on himself by not hiring an agent, and signed a major deal with the Washington Wizards. Arenas was great for a few years, and ultimately succumbed to his quirks and multiple knee injuries. It remains to be seen if Whiteside, who has a bit of an extroverted personality, is focused on being great; or if the big payday is all he needed for career validation. The man who I guess people call Agent Block and/or Count Blockula has to combat history in order to achieve sustained greatness.

He has an interesting wrinkle to his current situation with the Heat. One of the franchise's biggest legends and the underappreciated final piece of the Big Three era are no longer on the roster. With Dwyane and Chris Bosh gone, Whiteside is the team's most recognizable face. Though Miami isn't the most supportive pro sports town, the city was blessed with a superstar face in Wade for the past dozen years (and that LeBron guy for a few). Whiteside has a void there for him to fill, however inattentive Miami fans may be. There is a crown lying on the ground at his feet, abandoned by The Artist Formerly Known As The Flash. We'll see if Whiteside has it in him to wear it.

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