Hassan Whiteside is embarking on his first season with the Portland Trail Blazers after falling out of favor with the Miami Heat. Despite being the top frontcourt option in Portland, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal called out Whiteside’s play in the Trail Blazers’ 107-101 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.
The former NBA superstars both questioned Whiteside’s effort throughout the game, but the comments didn’t fall on deaf ears. Whiteside was asked about what they said during postgame media availability and admitted that he struggled out of the gate against the Clippers.
But Whiteside then noted that he wasn’t surprised by O’Neal’s comments, because fellow Trail Blazer Damian Lillard .
O’Neal also specifically questioned Whiteside’s defense on a play in which Ivica Zubac hit a hook shot on him in the low post. The former Los Angeles Lakers legend added that he has simply expected Whiteside to play better in a contract year.
“Ball out. Play with effort. Play. It’s his contract year,” O’Neal said. “I’ve been sticking up for him all the time, but tonight he’s playing with no effort.”
For what it’s worth, Whiteside still managed to score 17 points on 7-of-18 shooting to go along with 19 rebounds and a pair of blocks. He did commit three turnovers in the opening half, but still was effective on the glass when he was in the game.
“I had got two early fouls, two turnovers,” Whiteside said after the game. “It was a tough first half. I’m not perfect. I have really good first halves and really bad second halves, but I just happened to have a really good second half this time.”
Early in the 2019-20 season, Whiteside is still putting up strong numbers for a Trail Blazers team that is very thin in the frontcourt. Whiteside is easily the primary frontcourt option with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins out of the lineup.
Whiteside is currently averaging a double-double to the tune of 14.7 points and 13.0 rebounds while also registering 1.4 blocks per contest. The former second round pick has registered a double-double in four of the seven games that he’s played in this season.
In addition, Thursday marked the third consecutive game that Whiteside had a double-double. Unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, they came away with a win in only one of those contests. While Whiteside may not have played his best, he certainly doesn’t appear to be worried about any criticism coming from the likes of Barkley and O’Neal.