Many people thought the Portland Trail Blazers were foolish when they matched the four-year, $46 million dollar offer sheet small forward Nicolas Batum signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves last summer. But after Batum’s solid all-around play this season, the Blazers made the right decision to retain the versatile forward’s services.
After playing a complementary role through his first four seasons Batum has taken a larger role in the Blazers offense this year. Batum is averaging career highs across the board, contributing 15.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists while also being the Blazers lock down perimeter defender. Batum’s 4.9 assists are triple his previous career average, highlighting the playmaking ability Batum has been able to exhibit in his fifth season.
Some may take Batum’s more calm demeanor as a sign that he isn’t playing hard, but that isn’t the case. Batum’s demeanor has been a steady influence on the young Blazer team that was hovering around the .500 mark before a recent tough stretch. Having an improving Batum on the roster gives the Blazers a young veteran to grow with rookie point guard Damian Lillard and All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
In today’s NBA when teams often overpay for a player without getting much in return for their investment, the Blazers can feel confident that Batum will continue to progress into being a do-it-all starting small forward in their lineup for years to come. Getting Batum for $11.5 million per season for four years was a sound investment that the Blazers organization can hang their hat on for years to come.