Of course, Whiteside feels otherwise.
Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post:
I love that Whiteside tried for a moment to say the “right” thing only to reveal his true thoughts. For better or worse, Whiteside is brutally honest, and I appreciate that.
Whiteside constructed a vision of an ideal defender – someone who blocks shots and intimidates opponents – and he worked hard to fulfill it. Throughout the season, he learned the value of a big man switching onto smaller players, and he embraced the challenge of doing that, too. I’m convinced nobody in the NBA matches Whiteside’s image of an ideal defender more than Whiteside.
But his vision of an ideal defender is a little off. There’s something to be said about positioning, not trying to block every shot (and pump fake), valuing defensive rebounds. Whiteside too often gives up an offensive rebound because he was contesting a shot, but he sees blocks as the defining defensive stat. Steals are also more valuable than blocks, because they always end the opponent’s possession and more often lead to fastbreaks the other way.
There are reasons the Heat allowed more points per possession with Whiteside on the court – an overused, but still relevant, stat.
That said, Whiteside defends very well overall. His massive strengths far outweigh his weaknesses. I’m nitpicking his flaws only relative to the very best defenders in the NBA.
Whiteside also improved a great defensively this season. If the award were given for half the season, Whiteside would have a strong case for third (still behind Leonard and Green). But the whole year counts, and Rudy Gobert and DeAndre Jordan ranked clearly ahead to me.
I’d call third a finish that should please Whiteside. I’m also glad he doesn’t share that view.