The Portland Trail Blazers have the worst defensive rating in the NBA heading into Saturday's matchup with the Miami Heat. Powered by a potent backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum they have few problems on offense, but they have been searching for answers on the other end. With that in mind, it's interesting to wonder what they would look like if they had signed Hassan Whiteside in the offseason. The Heat center said at shootaround that it could have happened.
A couple of thoughts:
- Miami and Portland had two of the most notable offseasons in the NBA. Prioritizing re-signing Whiteside for max money might have had something to do with the Heat losing Dwyane Wade to the Chicago Bulls in free agency. Losing out on Whiteside led to the Blazers' controversial signing of Evan Turner for four years and $70 million. Portland also chose to re-sign Moe Harkless, Allen Crabbe and Meyers Leonard while extending C.J. McCollum's contract and adding center Festus Ezeli. If Whiteside had reached an agreement with the Blazers as soon as free agency started, would Leonard still be there? More interesting: would Wade still be in Miami? It's impossible to know, but it's kind of fun to speculate.
- Would Whiteside really fix Portland's defense? This is an open question -- while the team does not have a big man as imposing as him, he has not proved that he helps the Heat defensively as much as his shot-blocking ability suggests he should. Whiteside is prone to chasing blocks at the expense of playing solid team defense, and Miami has been been better this season on that end when he's been on the bench. While he seems in some ways to be a perfect fit for the Blazers, a lot of their problems on defense have been to do with communication, and Whiteside isn't known for that. He would certainly help them with their poor rebounding numbers, however.