The 2016/2017 season wasn't great for the Miami Heat, by their standards. As we await to see who will be the new NBA champion for this season, the Heat are well rested and they are getting prepared for the next season. They missed the playoffs this year, as they finished as the number nine seed in the Eastern Conference with a 41-41 record. Miami had a number of key players injured and wasn't really at full strength for the most part of the season. Still, they showed great mental strength and willingness to compete as they were just one win away from making the playoffs. The one thing they did get during the 2016/2017 season is Hassan Whiteside - an emerging star in the NBA.

Great season for Hassan

Whiteside signed a four-year deal worth $98 million with the Miami Heat last summer as a free agent, and it's paid off for both sides so far. He proved he can be counted on, as he played 77 games during the 2016/2017 season with the averages of 17.0 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. The 27-year-old center was efficient shooting the ball, connecting on 55 percent of his shots and from the free-throw line, he shot nearly 63 percent. Those are great numbers for a seven-footer in today's NBA.

For the most part of the season, Whiteside carried the Heat on offense, and especially on the defensive end as he is considered one of the best shot-blockers in the league.

Whiteside has come a long way in his career, considering he was a 33rd pick in the 2010 draft, drafted by the Sacramento Kings. He played just one game in his rookie year, and the following year he took part in just 18 games for the Kings. He was also in the D-League for a few years before signing with the Heat in the 2014/2015 season.

After signing with Miami, Hassan's fortunes have changed and now he wants to leave a big mark for the franchise that gave him the opportunity to shine and show what he's capable of.

“I think we got a chance next year"

As he's getting ready for the next season, Whiteside spoke to Miami Herald's Manny Navarro and said he wants to help the Heat win another championship.

It's a bold statement considering how dominant the Warriors and the Cavaliers have been as of late. But that's what Heat is all about, winning and not settling for anything less than a title.

When asked about his team's chances next season, this is what he said, "I think we got a chance next year, honestly. You don’t know what a guy like Dion (Waiters) is going to bring and Goran (Dragic). Them guys can become superstars themselves."

It will be interesting to see what moves will the Heat make during the free agency that starts next month. They will have around $38 million in cap space once they release Chris Bosh from his contract, and that will be more than enough for them to make a big move in the free agency this summer.

One of the most important things for them will be keeping Dion Waiters as he enters unrestricted free agency on July 1. Waiters and Whiteside have proven to be a powerful duo in this league, and no doubt, there's a bright future for the Miami Heat franchise with these two guys leading the way.

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