Blazers news: Hassan Whiteside on Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins' return
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Hassan Whiteside speaks out on Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins’ return

Hassan Whiteside, Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins, Blazers

According to Hassan Whiteside, the return of Portland Trail Blazers big men Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins will help boost his play on both ends of the floor.

Nurkic and Collins missed several regular season games due to various injuries. The nearly four-month hiatus seems to have been a blessing in disguise though, as both of them are now ready to suit up and help the Blazers in the Orlando bubble.

Whiteside, who had to fill in the void in their absence, is delighted by the good news.

“It’s a relief,” the Blazers center said, via Dwight Jaynes of NBC Sports. “It’s good to have all those guys back there. It breeds confidence in you as a defender. You can be a lot more aggressive in the pick and rolls. There’s a lot more rim protection behind me. The paint will be locked down more.”

Jusuf Nurkic suffered a broken leg on March 25, 2019. Zach Collins, meanwhile, sustained a dislocated shoulder just three games into the 2019-20 season. With these setbacks, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts had to field Hassan Whiteside for an extended amount of minutes.

In 61 games before the season was suspended, Whiteside spent 31.3 minutes on the floor per game and averaged 16.3 points, 14.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 3.1 blocks.

The Blazers currently sport a 29-37 record for ninth in the West, 3.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. Like all 22 teams, Portland will play eight seeding games to determine their standing and if they’ll qualify for the postseason. If they do, then they’ll extend their streak to seven straight playoff appearances.