Except for a few elite operators, the post-up has been deemed possession non grata. The Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside hasn’t received the memo.
At 28.8-percent, Whiteside occupies more than a quarter of his offensive possession with his back to the basket, or something resembling that, per Synergy Sports. For comparison, Rudy Gobert, the archetype of modern rim protectors only uses 4.8 percent of his offensive possession for post-ups.
Whiteside isn’t alone, though, there are still a few of post-up dinosaurs; guys like Marc Gasol, Brook Lopez and “Big” Al Jefferson all use post-ups to soak up more than a quarter of their offensive possession. Still, something separates them from Whiteside — they all average nearly one point per possession (or more) while operating in the post. Whiteside averages 0.739 points per post-up, a far cry from efficiency.
Miami’s big man may fit the aesthetic of a post-up bruiser, but he lacks the overall strength to jockey for position with other bigs. When trying to overpower other behemoths, Whiteside’s lack of strength leads to some peculiar footwork, too. Crossed feet, awkward steps.
One-on-one, against more susceptible players, Whiteside’s surprisingly effective touch can make up for some of his deficiencies. But when teams send a second defender at him, Whiteside is rendered close-to-incapacitated. When double-teamed in the post, Whiteside averages 0.727 points per possession, per Synergy Sports. Among the 20 players who have been double-teamed at least 40 times in the post, Whiteside is No. 19 is scoring efficiency. No. 20 is Jahil Okafor.
When pressured by a second defender, the ball not finding basket is one part of Whiteside’s post-up problems; but it’s when he doesn’t get a shot off that really hurts his team. When double-teamed, Whiteside’s post-ups result in a turnover 31.8-percent of the time, per Synergy. (Just about every third post-up means a potential fast break for the opposing team.) Out of players with 40 such possession, Whiteside is, again, No. 19 of 20. Joel Embiid is No. 20.
Whiteside’s hard-headed, tunnel-vision style of posting up has incentivized teams to send a second defender at him. Often times, he doesn’t see it coming until four foreign arms are failing in his face. At that point, a player with court vision might be in trouble, but Whiteside isn’t of those players — so he’s usually in deep trouble.
To give a representation for how little Whiteside kicks it to teammates once he’s in the post: Al Jefferson, the poster child of posting-up, has passed out of the post 66 times in his 234 post-up possessions, per Synergy Sports. In Whiteside’s 269 post-ups, he’s passed the ball 30 times; he makes Big Al look like Magic Johnson.
Looking deeper, out of the 44 possessions that Whiteside has been presented a double team, he’s only passed out of the post 15 times. For comparison's sake, Big Al has passed out of 41 of 50 such post-ups (82-percent of the time); Marc Gasol 95 out of 150 (63.3-percent); DeMarcus Cousins 90 of 160 (56.3-percent).
It’s safe to say that the lion’s share of Whiteside’s passes are out of necessity. And as long as that’s course — and he keeps up his penchant for post-ups — he can expect to see more pressure in the while operating on the block.