Portland Trail Blazers: 5 bold predictions for rest of the offseason

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 16: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers fires up the crowd during the second half of Game Two of the Western Conference quarterfinals against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2019 NBA Playoffs Moda Center on April 16, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. The Blazers won 114-94. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 16: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers fires up the crowd during the second half of Game Two of the Western Conference quarterfinals against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2019 NBA Playoffs Moda Center on April 16, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. The Blazers won 114-94. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /
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Portland Trail Blazers
Hassan Whiteside of the Portland Trail Blazers greets fans before a game (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images) /

2. Hassan gets into the true best shape of his life

“[Insert player here] says he has spent the summer getting into the best shape of his life”, “[Blank name] has added 20 pounds of muscle over the offseason”, “[X] was the first person in the gym each morning.” Can you think of any more useless rhetoric we hear every summer in pro sports that usually ends up meaning nothing in the grand scheme of things?

Despite all that, Hassan Whiteside may truly be the exception. And that’s really saying something, I mean, the guy is already a genetic freak even by NBA standards. Players in the league stand tall like mountains over regular men, and Hassan manages to make perhaps the most gifted athlete of all-time look small in comparison.

Whiteside’s struggles have never been due to a lack of athletic ability, or skills on the court. His issues have always resided in his own mind. Adapting to the intense working man’s culture inside the Heat organization, focusing on his own game even as his replacement was drafted, and avoiding the plethora of distractions in Miami made becoming the best version of himself a near impossible task.

But for the first time in his basketball career, Whiteside looks excited to play again now that he’s joined up with the Portland Trail Blazers. Keep in mind, this is a guy that only played 111 minutes in his first four years after being drafted by Sacramento, time that included playing overseas and barely getting a chance in the league. It remains to be seen if Hassan is actually as much of a head case as the media has portrayed him to be.

My money’s going to be on the contrary. He has seemed genuinely enthused to be playing in Portland, seen passing around food to the homeless just days after the trade was announced. And if there’s anyone that can get the best out of him, it’s Terry Stotts. Whiteside should look better than ever next season, playing in an environment where he’s comfortable and willing to work harder than ever.