(via Blazer's Edge)

The Portland Trail Blazers are in the midst of a hard-fought battle for that elusive Western Conference playoff spot. With the Grizzlies, Blazers, Pelicans, and Spurs fighting for that eight seed, Portland will need all hands on deck if they want to play into May.

Alongside Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Hassan Whiteside will have to step up in bigs ways for his team.

After last night’s rather dominant performance, he was quick to point out his status as the world’s best defensive player.

Averaging 3.1 blocks per game, he’s the league’s leader in that category, surpassing the likes of Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert, and Clint Capela. He is also third in the league in rebounds, grabbing an average of 14 per game.

As far as the race for Defensive Player of the Year goes, he certainly has a case to win it this year.

Unfortunately, his team isn’t fairing nearly as well. They are near the bottom in team defense and have struggled to keep their heads above the water all season long. And while Whiteside’s future with the team is uncertain, something will have to change for the Blazers if they want to do better in the seasons to come.

The return of Jusuf Nurkic could spell the end of his tenure in Rip City.