The Portland Trail Blazers will have some key decisions to make ahead of this Feb. 6 trade deadline. Among them will be to ponder if they should trade center Hassan Whiteside, whom they traded for in the summer.
At his best, Whiteside has 20-20 upside, capable of wreaking havoc on the glass and tormenting opponents with second shot opportunities as well as his defensive prowess turning shots away.
At his worst, he can be passive and inattentive at times, lackluster in the pick-and-roll and outrun by his man in transition.
Whiteside is undoubtedly a trade asset teams are looking to get their hands on, but is he worth trading at this stage of the season?
His averages of 16.0 points and 14.1 rebounds are right on par with his breakout 2016-17 season, the first of a ginormous four-year, $98.4 million deal he signed with the Miami Heat. It seemed Whiteside was bound to be worth every penny back then, but he regressed the next couple of seasons in the midst of turmoil with the front office and the coaching staff.
Now that he has found a new home and a new opportunity, Whiteside is back to his rebounding and shot-blocking ways, once again leading the league in rejections (3.1 per game) for the first time since his monstrous average of 3.7 blocks in 2015-16.
Whiteside is perhaps the only line of defense the Blazers have to offer at this point of the season, and when he thrives, the Blazers are a giant step above from what they’ve been this season.
The Blazers are 8-4 in games in which Whiteside scores 20 or more points and 5-1 in games when he pulls down 20 or more boards this season. Portland is also 10-3 in games in which he blocks five or more shots.
Portland also has the best win streak in the Western Conference at four in a row, coupled with a 7-3 mark in the last 10 games, which has the Blazers only 1.5 games back of the Memphis Grizzlies for the last playoff spot.
The Blazers might have to think about Jusuf Nurkic’s return to the court, but that is unlikely to happen until March, giving him roughly about 18-20 games to get into shape — all while making a run to make the postseason.
Whiteside might not have been part of the Blazers’ plans as anything other than a short-term replacement at center, but he is earning his check at this point of the season as a proven catalyst at the defensive end while providing some a solid scoring option on offense.
The 7-footer has expressed his desire to remain with the team past this season and even bought a house in Portland, giving the Blazers every reason to think long and hard about keeping him past the deadline and potentially striking a deal with him in free agency.