Portland Trail Blazers fans are excited about the arrival of center Hassan Whiteside, a perennial shot-blocker who’ll bolster Portland’s interior defense in the absence of injured starter Jusuf Nurkic. In an article running down the key question facing each NBA team this season, Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports tabs Whiteside as Portland’s biggest variable, mingling a dose of caution along with the hope.
Nobody has ever doubted Whiteside’s per-minute numbers, but it’s safe to say that the big man wore out his welcome with the Miami Heat, both on and off the court. With Jusuf Nurkic out for most, if not all of the season, Portland rolled the dice on Whiteside to go with a revamped roster outside of its backcourt staples, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Zach Collins took a huge step forward last year and he’ll likely demand more minutes, so it will be interesting to see how coach Terry Stotts divides the minutes between his two main big men -- or if he tries to play them together. And if Whiteside doesn’t get the minutes he feels he deserves, how long will he be able to harness his discontent?
Similar questions surrounded Nurkic when he came on board from the Denver Nuggets in 2017. Rumored attitude issues in Denver melted away in the face of a starting role and bountiful touches. Whiteside’s situation is different; he was already a starter for the Heat. The Blazers will hope history repeats itself, with Whiteside playing enthusiastically.
How worried are you about Whiteside’s fit, emotionally or otherwise? If 1 is, “This is going to be a disaster” and 10 is, “We got this...no sweat”, where would you peg the Blazers’ new center?