Portland Trail Blazers: Setting 3 goals for Hassan Whiteside next season

Portland Trail Blazers - Hassan Whiteside (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Portland Trail Blazers - Hassan Whiteside (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Portland Trail Blazers’ newest addition to the frontcourt rotation will have a lot to prove in a comeback season next year.

While most Portland Trail Blazers fans will be anxiously awaiting the return of the Bosnian Beast Jusuf Nurkic, there’s a lot to look forward to with the addition of Hassan Whiteside. A juggernaut in the paint, Whiteside’s presence could dramatically affect the options Portland has at their disposal next season.

Portland’s pair of stars will be allowed to run-and-gun while Whiteside protects the paint and reels in boards to keep feeding Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Entering a contract year, Whiteside has a legitimate opportunity to fix his value on the market playing alongside one of the best teams in the NBA. If he can adjust to playing with his new team smoothly, his feud with Miami will no longer be a curse mark on his reputation but instead just a thing of the past.

Let’s take a look at three things Hassan Whiteside should be focused on entering his first season with the Portland Trail Blazers.

1. Lead league in blocks

Dating back to the 2014-15 season, Whiteside has been among the league’s top ten shot blockers. Hassan even led the league in blocks in 2015-16, the most shots any player had swatted away since Marcus Camby in 2008. Even then, Whiteside played six less games and six less minutes per game than Camby that year — his blocks per game average was higher than Camby’s.

No player in the 21st century has averaged more blocks per game than Whiteside in 2016. The last player to do it was the legendary rim protector Alonzo Mourning in 1999. It’s time for Hassan to re-assert himself as the game changer that he is. Last year he was forced to split time with Bam Adebayo, thus limiting his opportunities. He will get all the chances he needs to prove he can recapture his prior form in Portland as he fills in the starting role.

2. Generate seven extra possessions per game

Over the last five years in Miami, Whiteside has averaged 3.4 offensive rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 0.6 steals per game. If the Portland gets a version of him that can put up approximately 3.5 offensive rebounds, 3 blocks and 0.5 steals per game, they would in theory have an extra seven possessions per game. Can you imagine what Dame and CJ could do with an additional seven shots in each contest?

Per NBA.com, the Portland Trail Blazers had an Offensive Rating of 113.7, which means they rated out as the third best offense in the league. With the team’s transition towards a more spaced out offense with added sharpshooters in free agency, that number only looks to improve. With a handful of extra opportunities to score, the Blazers will have every opportunity to stage last-second comebacks or hold off opposing teams in close games.

3. Lead the bench unit in postseason play

Although Whiteside will make for a fine spot-starter in the absence of Nurkic, he’ll eventually have to assume a role off the bench once Jusuf is back in game-ready condition. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue, considering Hassan has split time with players like Adebayo, Amar’e Stoudemire and Chris Bosh.

In fact, Whiteside even led the league in blocks during a year where he came off the bench in 45 percent of his games. Hassan could very well be one of the most talented bench players in the league once Nurkic returns. Having one of the best centers in the NBA come to relieve the starting rotation is an invaluable asset the Blazers will benefit from come time for the playoffs.

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If Hassan wants to prove he still has value in this modern era of basketball, he came to the right place in Portland to do it. The Blazers will be a much better team if they get a focused version of Whiteside that’s capable of being the best shot blocker and rebounder in the league.