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Portland Trail Blazers Christmas Gifts: Fundamentals for Hassan Whiteside

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Portland’s new center has been everything they could hope for...almost.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Merry Christmas, Portland Trail Blazers fans! Today Blazer’s Edge is celebrating the holiday in the form of the worst Christmas Song ever written. The staff has compiled a list of gifts suitable for the team, and we’re running them down in 12 posts...with not a partridge or a leaping lord anywhere to be seen. We hope you enjoy the holiday and help us reflect on good wishes for the Blazers!

On the fourth day of Christmas, true fans give to the team...

Tune-Ups for Whiteside

If you count blocked shots and rebounds, Hassan Whiteside has been a never-ending Santa for the Blazers. 2.8 blocks and 13.5 rebounds are hard to argue with. Add in the 60.7% clip from the field, 15.5 points, and only 3 personal fouls per game, and there’s little to argue with for Portland’s early-season center replacement.

We can think of two things to put in Whiteside’s stocking, fundamentals that could use a little brush up.

The first is the ability to set strong screens. Portland’s pick game is weaker this year than we’ve seen in years, leading to solo drives and isolation bail-out shots becoming the order of the day. The defense has to move their feet still, but Portland’s offense never causes true chaos anymore. Center screen setting is one of the keys to their potential.

True, honest-to-goodness box-outs are the second. Whiteside’s aggregate rebounding is phenomenal. Portland is still 26th in the league in offensive rebounding percentage allowed. If the snowman from Rudolph had a baby with Mr. Miyagi, that child would say, “It’s not just the rebounds you get, it’s the rebounds the opponent doesn’t get.” Whiteside could be helping a bit more with that.