At just twenty-three years of age, the verdict on Nicolas Batum is certainly still in question. At a lanky 6 foot, 8 inches, and an agile 200 pounds, Batum has still been searching for his proper role on an NBA court. He has been shifted from the backcourt to the front-court, and to the wing, in his four seasons with the Portland Trailblazers; and, unfortunately for Portland, no position has yet to stick (Possibly a blessing is disguise).
A star on the French National Team, Batum is certianly used to controlling the ball, and the offense, alongside Tony Parker (Took silver in the 2011 European Championships) - a role Batum has yet to be givin within the NBA, until now.
During the lockout of last season, Batum returned home and played six games for Nancy, and averaged sixteen points a game – while pulling in seven boards, landing two steals, and dishing out six assists. Once the lock out came to an end, Batum went on to have a career year for Portland, despite seeing the same amount of minutes and receiving less starts than the previous year.
This past offseason, as a restircted free agent, Batum signed a four year, forty-six million dollar, offter sheet with the Minnesota Timberwolves - a very large deal for someone still so unproven. The Blazers decided to match, and Batum became their second highest paid player.
To live up to this contract, Batum is going to have to start, and provide close to twenty points a game. His role on the court is also going to have to expand to getting Lamarcus Aldridge the ball and locking down their opponant’s best perimeter player. These are all tasks Batum has shown he can accomplish in Europe and at the national stage, so it appears as it should be no bother to translate them to the NBA - after finally given the chance to. It seems unrealistic that Portland will find a home in the playoffs this season, however, Batum should certainly continue progessing and reestablishing his career year.
- Dave Hilts