NASSAU, BAHAMAS -- There were times sitting court side last season when you could hear Hassan Whiteside pleading with the official scorer's table to credit him with an assist.
Among the 69 centers in the league to play in at least 50 games last season, Whiteside tied for 61st with 29 total assists in 73 games. That of course was an improvement over the six assists he posted in 48 games his first season with the Heat.
With Miami entering a new era with Dwyane Wade now in Chicago and Chris Bosh unlikely to play for the franchise again, Whiteside is going to find the ball in his hands a lot more this coming season on more than just alley-oops.
And in order for the Heat's offense to work, he's going to have to be better than he's been at finding open shooters. Otherwise, he could find himself being suffocated by double-teams in the paint or just flat out ineffective when opposing teams collapse on him.
"He's been working at it," coach Erik Spoelstra said Thursday of Whiteside's post and paint passing game.
"Now we're trying to get him in spots where he can see the defense out in front of him and be aware of when help defense may come. I think that's his next evolution. It's not just who you are dealing with, but the next defender. And we've been working at that. He knows it's something he has to work on."
After spending the first day of camp Tuesday focused on defense and then most of Wednesday on "pace and space," Spoelstra on Thursday turned the Heat's focus to installing the team's offense.
Armed with more established long-distance shooters this season with veterans Luke Babbitt and Wayne Ellington joining Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson on the roster, there are likely going to be times when Whiteside could be the Heat's only true post presence on the floor, where he's essentially playing like Dwight Howard used to in Orlando with four wings on the floor.
Whiteside, who spent most of his summer training with Heat assistant Juwan Howard, said he's ready to handle whatever is thrown his way.
"If guys are open I'm going to give it to them," Whiteside said Thursday. "I think it's really more so play-making and about my usage rate, how many times I touch the ball in that situation. So, I should have a lot more assists."
"I'm a great passer," Whiteside continued. "I just have to show you all. Most of the time [last season] I was just the guy dunking the ball. I was giving people assists instead of giving out assists."
Whiteside ranked 32nd last season in touches (40.5 per game) among the 69 centers with at least 50 games played. But he also ranked fourth in paint touches (6.0) and fifth in post touches (7.0).
"We feel that it's something that's developed for every player," Spoeltra said of the ability for players to find open shooters. "When you're a pick-and-roll player and first get the ball handed to you, you think it's always for you. But there's different layers to it -- spacing and options when it's defended a certain way, and that's no different when a guy is in the post.
"You have to know where your spacing is," Spoelstra continued. "Often times in pick-and-rolls or in the post, the ball will find energy and if guys are getting to their spots early and with speed, the ball sees it and that's no different with Hassan."
Is Whiteside making strides? "Yes," Spoelstra said. "We're working on it quite a bit."