The Trail Blazers forward joined the Posted Up with Chris Haynes podcast to discuss his season with Portland and his expanded playing time under first-year head coach Chauncey Billups. Hear the full conversation on the Posted Up with Chris Haynes podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen.
CHRIS HAYNES: Nassir, you got a new coach this year. And the things you were going through in the first couple of years, that was with Terry Stotts, who was let go after last season. Did you know you were going to have an expanded role coming into this year? Did you and Coach Billups have a talk? Or was this something that just came on the fly?
NASSIR LITTLE: It was more so of-- you know, I think, like, just consistently, even after my first year, after my second year, like, I was seeing how I was getting better. And I knew I was going to have an expanded role because I was going to earn it. And I genuinely feel like with Terry, he wanted to play me more-- or I genuinely felt that way. But like, it was just kind of tough.
And I kind of understood it. But you know, I'm going to force the coach's hand. Like, I'm going to try to get better, be as productive as I can.
And you know, obviously this summer, I was working hard. And I had practiced with the Summer League team, you know, during July or early August. And like, as I was playing with them, like, I just kind of knew-- I was like, OK, like-- And Chauncey, you know, the whole coaching staff kind of saw what I was on, and was like, OK, he's going to be-- he's going to be ready to play.
And really, after that week of practice, me and Chauncey had a conversation. And he was like, bro, you know what I'm saying, this is going to be your year to-- you know what I'm saying, you gonna have to step up this year. So I took that challenge. And I think I've done well with it so far.
CHRIS HAYNES: OK. Now, I got to put you on the spot here. So you know about-- you know about how there's narratives out there, or there are fan bases calling for a certain thing. So whether you know or not-- I'm pretty sure you know, but I'mma let you know-- most Blazer fans want you starting.
NASSIR LITTLE: [LAUGHS]
CHRIS HAYNES: Is that what you-- I got to ask you, is that what you want moving forward? Is that-- do you feel like you've shown enough to say, man, look, I'm that starting small forward. You know, I balance the floor. I can handle the other wings, you know, that's the-- that's 6' 6", 6' 7" and things like that.
NASSIR LITTLE: Yeah.
CHRIS HAYNES: How are you handling this? How are you coping with this? What do you want? Do you want that spot right now?
NASSIR LITTLE: Yeah, you know, honestly-- you know, like anybody, I do want to start, you know what I'm saying? I want to be contributing a bigger piece of winning. And when I envision myself at my best, like, I envision myself as a starting wing in the NBA, you know what I'm saying? And that's what it is.
But in regards to our team right now, like, you got established guys in Dame, CJ, Norm. Like, I don't see any one of those guys coming off the bench. So like, that's just me being honest.
So you know, it's kind of just what it is right now. I'm in my third year. I still got a long way to go in regards to being my best self.
But you know, those guys are established players, you know what I'm saying? You know what you're going to get from them every night. They got the ability to rack up a game plan.
So this is kind of the dynamic of the team right now. But you know, ultimately, I do eventually feel like I'm going to be rewarded with a starting position one day as long as I just continue to just kind of do what I'm doing and keep improving my game.