Of all the interesting developments in the Portland Trail Blazers’ 121-115 loss to the Utah Jazz on Thursday night, none was more interesting than Skal Labissiere replacing Hassan Whiteside for clutch minutes in the fourth quarter. Portland’s regular rotation managed to dig a 23-point deficit, while a hybrid first-second unit squad—including Labissiere—pulled them out of it and gave them a chance to win the game.
Jamie Hudson of NBCSports Northwest wrote about Labissiere’s ascension, including quotes from Head Coach Terry Stotts on the performance of his young big man.
“Skal was terrific. You know, he’s able to score when there’s opportunities,” Stotts said.
Coach Stotts was not only pleased with Labissiere and Simons’ performance but he said those two along with Gary Trent Jr. all “had an impact on the game.”
Hudson’s article also quotes Labissiere himself on the big comeback and his role as a bench energizer.
There’s no true Labissiere/Whiteside divide yet. Coming off a streak of double-doubles and wielding far more experience than his young counterpart, Whiteside will undoubtedly continue to start and earn the lion’s share of minutes. As the season progresses, though, the center position could become a focal point in the greater, “play for now or grow for later” debate. If Labissiere continues to develop and produce in “terrific” fashion, how interested would you be to see him absorb more minutes from the veteran?