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Portland Trail Blazers Christmas Gifts: More Hustle!

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The team has nice players, but where’s the urgency!

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Portland Trail Blazers Soobum Im-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 tenth day of Christmas, true Blazer fans give to the team...

Boatloads of Hustle

The 2019-20 Trail Blazers feature plenty of legitimate athletes. They’re suiting up younger players. They’ve got Kent Bazemore in the starting lineup. They’re not going to be the 1991-92 Blazers, but they should be able to create pressure and chaos on the court. That’s just not happening, especially on the defensive end.

Part of the issue is communication. They don’t appear to be talking before the fact as much as staring at each other after. When they do talk, they don’t always react to each other. That’s inexperience in absolute terms and relative to each other. Faulty communication will slow reaction time to a crawl.

Even with that admission, it’s hard to get over the perception that the team has more give up than git’ up on many possessions. Opponents win 50-50 balls with disturbing regularity. The Blazers disappear for large sections of quarters, then have to scramble to get back into the game (or to hold the lead that their offense built). That wasn’t happening when Al-Farouq Aminu, Moe Harkless, and Jusuf Nurkic manned the frontcourt.

The Blazers need more trust and more talking, but more than that, they need players who will throw their bodies at loose balls, crash the boards like there’s no tomorrow, and get themselves down the floor at the speed of lightning instead of the speed of sponge mops. Hopefully Santa will get enough caffeine—or youth elixir—in that punchbowl full of eggnog to light a fire under the team in the new year.