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Impact vs Box Score: Looking at Whiteside’s Production with the Blazers

Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside is putting up excellent numbers, but are they hollow?

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

When trade targets have been discussed in the past, I often advocated for the Portland Trail Blazers to try and acquire Hassan Whiteside from the Miami Heat. I loved how he put up numbers that did not look real at first glance: multiple double-digit blocks games, multiple 25+ rebound games, triple-doubles straight out of NBA 2K on rookie difficulty. I was happy when the Blazers made the move to acquire him to start while Jusuf Nurkic recovers.

When others maintained that Portland needed to move Whiteside before the deadline for a wing with a longer contract, I was against it. After all, Whiteside had set the Blazers team record for blocks in a game just 16 games into his Portland career, and that was not even his best career outing.

However, looking at the current statistics for the Blazers (injuries or not), the issue seems to be that while Whiteside is putting up excellent numbers (15.6 points, 14.0 rebounds, 2.9 blocks per game), the evidence is there that those stats are ultimately hollow.

Portland is second in the NBA in blocks per game (6.4, behind the Los Angeles Lakers 7.2). Partially as a result from that, the Blazers are tied for sixth in the NBA in opposing shooting percentage at 44.4. Yet Portland is 20th in the NBA in points allowed (113.6), and 26th in opponents shots per game. The reason?

Rebounding. The Blazers are dead last in offensive rebounds allowed per game (11.8). They are 29th in total rebounds allowed (48.3, behind the Minnesota Timberwolves at 48.5). Their -2.1 rebounding differential is 25th in the NBA.

That is where the disconnect between Whiteside’s stats and the team’s result collides. Whiteside grabs a ton of rebounds—but not on the offensive glass where the team needs him most. He blocks a lot of shots—but the Blazers rarely get the ball off the shot as Whiteside tends to swat the ball downward, back to the shooter, while other top shot blockers swipe to the side to allow teammates to recover the ball.

The stats reflect that reality. Portland gains possession on shots blocked less than nearly every other team. This results in far more opportunities for the opposing team then should logically happen.

Obviously, this is not all Whiteside’s fault. At times he is the only healthy player on the team taller than 6’9. The help that normally would come from rebounders like Skal Labissiere or shot blockers like Zach Collins has been taken away. Whiteside has done an admirable job in the situation he has been placed.

Just don’t fall in love with the crazy stats.