A move to the bench has instead transformed Hassan Whiteside into the most dominant center on both ends of the floor.
Since the All-Star break — a span of 22 games — Whiteside has posted 18 points on 60.9 percent shooting from the field to go along with 13.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks a night.
With six games remaining in the season, Whiteside is poised to join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only other player in league history to lead the league in total rejections while shooting over 60 percent from the field.
Seemingly each game, he is adding range to his offensive repertoire, becoming a legitimate threat even when he has the ball away from the rim.
Whiteside is still a force in the paint, ranking fourth in the league with 138 dunks on the season, but he is developing a potent midrange jumper.
On attempts between 10 and 16 feet away from the rim, Whiteside is converting 43.9 percent of his attempts, a better percentage than Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Al Horford this season.
The 7-footer has even eliminated the biggest weakness in his game, increasing his free throw shooting to 76 percent, a improvement of 20.8 percent from prior to All-Star weekend.
Whiteside will likely become the first player to go from a league minimum deal to a max contract the following season because of his ability to protect the rim.
The former Marshall star has rejected 251 shots this season, 81 more blocks than anyone else this season. Whiteside is the first player in 15 years to average more than 3.7 blocks per game, and will become just the 12th player in league history to average the number for an entire season.
During the fantasy basketball championship week, Whiteside was an unstoppable force, posting 17.8 points, 12.8 rebounds and 3.8 blocks in four appearances.
He began the week with a career-high 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the field against Brooklyn, then posted 18 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocks two nights later against the Lakers.
Whiteside capped his phenomenal week with a 20 point, 13 rebound, four block effort Saturday night in Portland.
The 2015-16 season has produced 17 performances with at least seven blocks, seven have been submitted by Whiteside.
After becoming the first player in over eight years to swat away 250 shots, votes may have a difficult time passing on him.
Biggest Surprise: Nikola Vucevic– Orlando Magic
Many fantasy owners had written off Vucevic for the season after a strained groin kept him out of the lineup for 13 consecutive games. In three appearances, the former Southern California star is averaging 23.7 points on 68.7 percent shooting from the field, as he has thrived in a reserve role for the Magic. Coach Scott Skiles indicated Vucevic may return to the starting lineup Wednesday in Detroit, a move that is undeniable following his offensive outburst since returning from injury.
Biggest Disappointment: D’Angelo Russell– Los Angeles Lakers
Forget any drama unfolding away from the court, Russell was a disaster during the fantasy basketball championship week. The second overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft shot 12-of-44 from the field (27.7 percent) and committed more turnovers (11) than assists (eight) during the past week. Russell had become one of the most promising guards in fantasy basketball, pouring in 20 or more points seven times in a span of eight games from late February to early March, but has submitted just one 20 point performance in his last 10 games.
Stat of the Week: Stephen Curry– Golden State Warriors
A 39 point outing Sunday night — Curry’s 38th performance with at least 30 points this year — was highlighted by a 9-of-13 shooting effort from beyond the arc. The total leaves the reigning MVP just 22 long range conversions from reaching the unfathomable total of 400 for the year. Curry has knocked down 378 shots from 3-point range, a number already so far out of range that no other player in league history has made 270 shots from 3-point range in a single season, but if he manages to knock down 3.7 shots from beyond the arc for the rest of the year, 400 is within reach. The 27-year-old has sank 5.1 shots from downtown during the first 74 games of the year. Curry’s ability to quickly pile up long range conversions, as he has posted six games with nine or more made 3-pointers, is simply unprecedented. No other player has submitted more than five performances with nine or more made 3-pointers in their entire career.