Get to know more about the newest Trail Blazers, Kent Bazemore, Hassan Whiteside, Mario Hezonja and Anthony Tolliver, by hearing from writers who covered them. Tara talked to Jeff Siegel of Peachtree Hoops, Nekias from 5 Reasons Sports Network, Preston Ellis of Orlando Pinstriped Post, and Brady Klopfer of Golden State of Mind to hear more about what expectations were for these players and how they did (or did not) meet them.
There were a few common themes between them. Bazemore, Whiteside, and Tolliver bounced between the G-League and the NBA before securing regular spots. Hezonja and Bazemore were both most recently on losing teams looking to develop younger players coming up behind them. Hezonja and Tolliver are both a bit different than a lot of players at their positions. Finally, despite losing their starting positions and seeing less playing time last season, Bazemore and Whiteside had improved in ways that will be important to the Trail Blazers: Bazemore on defense and Whiteside on screens.
Learn more about their style of play, what they meant in their locker rooms and how they embraced the teams they are coming from.
1:30 Jeff Siegel (@jgsiegel) of Peachtree Hoops on Kent Bazemore. When Bazemore came to Atlanta, he had been a bench player for the Warriors. There were minimum expectations for him because nobody had really seen him play. He quickly turned into a regular rotation player who was an important part of the 60-win Hawks team. Bazemore always played the game the right way: he knew where to be, how to play with energy, and he could guard positions 1-3.
5:00 What are the characteristics of his game? Spot up shooter and secondary playmaker. Turns the ball over a fair amount. Left handed player who likes to shoot corner threes.
7:00 A bit more detail about his secondary playmaking. It is not so much that he is going to likely be a secondary ball handler, but he can create things if a primary playmaker gets trapped.
8:30 Guarding the biggest small forwards is going to be hard for him. He is going to have a harder time than Evan Turner or Al-Farouq Aminu did against LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard or Paul George. The Blazers traded defense for offense when they moved on from Turner.
11:00 He will be fine as a team defender. He’s an excellent communicator and rotates correctly. Before he got injured last year he was having the best defensive season of his career.
12:30 What will he contribute to the locker room? He’s a fantastic human being. He’s been a veteran leader to the young team in Atlanta. He will fit into a locker room that is trying to win at a high level.
16:00 Bazemore is a big card game player, hosts an annual UNO tournament to raise money for charity.
18:00 Nekias (@NekiasNBA) of 5 Reasons Sports and Dime Magazine on Hassan Whiteside. First thing he remembers about Whiteside was his triple-double with blocks. So which of his stats are the most useful? He is going to be able to run up and down the floor, protect the paint and grab rebounds.
19:30 How is his screening? Through the first two and a half years he wasn’t very good at screens. Last season he became one of the better screen setters on the team.
21:00 What were the expectations when Whiteside came to the team? Miami was dealing with the aftermath of LeBron James leaving. When he first got there he signed to a 10-day contract. He played a lot of minutes off the bench and earned himself a spot on the roster. Then Bam Adabayo came in and was doing everything Whiteside did and took his minutes. That was tough for Whiteside who says he wants to play more. That is a good thing for Portland.
23:00 Whiteside will be an intriguing fit with Lillard and McCollum. He provides more vertical options by catching lobs. He probably won’t be doing the short roll passing like Nurkic did.
25:00 In Portland, Whiteside will be in a winning situation where he gets lots of minutes. He will do well in a locker room that has close personal relationships. He will be comfortable there and “a comfortable, happy Hassan is a beast of a center.”
27:00 Preston Ellis (@PrestonEllis) on Mario Hezonja. The interesting thing about Hezonja is that even though he’s been in the league for 4 years, we really don’t know what all he can do. The situations he’s been in have not been winning situations. It will be great to see what he can do with Portland.
31:00 Hezonja has great half-court vision, he can see around players, but his best position is in transition. He’s a human highlight reel–with plenty of whoopsies in there as well. He has no lack of confidence. He’s going to be good as a secondary play-maker, especially alongside McCollum when McCollum is acting as point for the bench.
35:00 Hezonja really liked his time in Orlando. Portland writers are going to have a fun locker room to cover. He’s going to be in a better situation than he ever has before, so everything is lined up for him to succeed.
37:30 Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) on Anthony Tolliver. When Tolliver came to Golden State he was kind of unique in that he was a power forward but he liked to shoot 3s. That was unusual at the time.
40:00 He’s always played within his role, never trying to do too much. He plays good enough defense so that he can stay on the floor to keep shooting 3s.
43:00 He’s been on so many teams and everyone was happy to have him as a part of their team. He’s the first to pick someone up who fell and encourage those who are struggling. He has a hard time guarding the modern, fast forwards in today’s league. He is capable of holding his own in a system.
xoxo Team Mom | @tcbbiggs