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Mom’s Favorite: Hassan Whiteside Looks Comfortable

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In a week that the Trail Blazers struggled to win, Hassan Whiteside’s career high is a bright spot.

Portland Trail Blazers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Each week, Team Mom highlights her favorites plays, players, and other things that made the Trail Blazers fun to watch. Who is Mom’s Favorite this week? What were your favorite things that happened this week? Let us know in the comments below.

Week 8: December 8-14. Oklahoma City Thunder (L), New York Knicks (W), Denver Nuggets (L)

Mom’s Favorite: Hassan Whiteside

Whiteside is growing on me as he gets more familiar with this team. Miami Heat fans love to point out that his box score production is not necessarily a good indicator of his impact on the game. I can see that, especially as the losses mount and he’s getting lots of rebounds but the other teams are getting lots of wins.

However, with the roster as depleted as it has ever been, points need to come from somewhere and Whiteside has tried hard to score in as many ways as he can. We have seen enough of this team to know that they are not going to be defensive stalwarts any time soon, so they need to make the ball go through the hoop as much as possible to even be able to compete. Whiteside took a season-high 21 shots against the Nuggets and converted 15 of them. He scored out of multiple pick and rolls with Damian Lillard, he finished off of offensive rebounds, and he even took and made a three.

That connection with Lillard has been growing as the season goes on.

This chart (converted from his passes dashboard on nba.com) shows that while there has been a modest increase in passes from Lillard to Whiteside, there has been a bigger increase in field goal attempts that result from those passes. There is an even bigger jump in field goal percentage on those attempts. In other words, Whitside is doing better scoring on passes from Lillard. This is good because Lillard needs more people he can trust to finish.

Lillard to Whiteside Connection

Lillard to Whiteside Passes per game Field Goal Attempts Field Goals Made FG Percentage
Lillard to Whiteside Passes per game Field Goal Attempts Field Goals Made FG Percentage
Season 10.6 4.1 2.6 63.20%
Last 10 games 10.8 5.2 3.6 68.10%
Last 3 games 11.3 5.7 4.3 76.50%

Here are Whiteside’s highlights from the Denver game.

He also became the first Blazer since Buck Williams to get ten or more rebounds in at least ten straight games.

Overall it was a good week for Whiteside. He averaged 21.3 points, 12 rebounds (four offensive), 2.3 assists, 4.7 blocks, and he made all his free throws (seven total). And, well, technically he is tied for first in the league in 3-point shooting percentage :).

Honorable mentions

Next Man Up Kent Bazemore Kent Bazemore stepped into the starting lineup this week, a spot he is familiar with, as he started 252 of his 355 games in Atlanta. He is currently averaging 7.8 points per game with the Blazers, which is less than he did with the Hawks (10.2 points per game), but with the starters I would expect that to improve.

One thing I really liked was that I saw Bazemore run some plays that were reminiscent of Moe Harkless. For example, Bazemore got himself to the corner after defenders chased McCollum around the arc. If he continues to be energetic on defense and run these plays, Bazemore could turn out to be a better-shooting replacement for Harkless.

As Nate Mann detailed in his article about Bazemore’s shooting, Bazemore is at his best when he’s spotting up, especially shooting from the right corner. With all of the adjustments the guards have had to make this season, easing Bazemore into the starting lineups seems like it will be one of the smoothest.

One more thing about Bazemore. Media have covered his and his family’s transition to Portland pretty extensively. This week his wife shared a post on Instagram about her struggles with post-partum depression after the birth of her son and the loss of her mother. It was brave of her to come forward like this and kudos to her for sharing this deeply personal story, and to Kent for supporting her.

Oh my heart! Jusuf Nurkic is running stairs, getting up shots, and wearing a headband.

Rodney Hood undergoes successful surgery. We’re thinking of you Hoodie!

Lillard to be inducted into the Big Sky Conference Hall of Fame. There has been a full court press of media about Damian Lillard lately, from the ESPN cover story to his Player’s Tribune article. Knowing what we do about Lillard and the pride he takes in helping elevate everyone around him, I believe he will be just as pleased about being inducted in the inaugural class of the Big Sky Hall of Fame. This is just one more example of how his success has brought attention to Weber State and his coaches there.

Look, just give all the alley-oops to the next generation. Please. It’s killing me to watch Lillard—brilliant at literally every other skill except for throwing lobs—labor at trying to hit a guy above the rim when we’ve got 20-year-olds who can do it practically with their eyes closed. (And if this is the incentive that Lillard needs to add exceptional lob-throwing to his bag of tricks, I’m okay with that too.)

That will do it for this week’s Mom’s Favorites. What did you like about this week? What plays or player make you excited for the future? Let us know in the comments below.

Xoxo Team Mom | @tcbbiggs

Blazer’s Edge Night is coming in March. Buy your tickets now to help kids see a Blazer game!