I’m just going to come right out and say it, I will be lovin’ me some Nicolas Batum this upcoming season. This love is completely platonic, or as the kids like to say, no homo; although, he does have a dashing smile and resembles a young Obama. The 23-year-old Frenchman will be entering his fifth season with the Portland Trailblazers looking to improve on an already impressive 2011-2012 campaign. Last season he experienced an uptick in points (13.9), blocks (1.0), and treys (1.8) despite averaging a whole minute less per game. Say what?! He was able to accomplish this by assuming a larger role offensively (20.5 USG% compared to 17.8 in 2010-2011) while maintaining his solid shooting percentages, which is an impressive feat for such a young player. The increase in offensive touches (Jerry Sandusky: “Did someone say offensive touching?”) was due to Brandon Roy‘s career-ending knee injury and the late-season trade of Gerald Wallace, which opened up shots for Batum. After Wallace was shipped off to Brooklyn, Batum averaged 15.4 points and 2.5 threes in the 12 games he was healthy for. Not too shabby.
So what should we expect from Monsieur Batum next season? A decrease in production all around… ha gotcha! Barring any drastic off-season moves, Batum should continue to see a larger role in the Blazer’s gameplan, playing second fiddle behind LaMarcus Aldridge. I would expect a line of 16 points/6 rebounds/2 threes while averaging just over a steal and a block per game, all while maintaining his excellent shooting ratios. But that’s not all! If you call in the next 10 minutes and promise to use your credit card, he will throw in some room for upside and a slapchop on top of that! What a guy.
Batum is currently being ranked 59th overall according to ESPN. Here is a list of small forwards going ahead of him right now: Paul Pierce, Danny Granger, Tyreke Evans, and Luol Deng. I would rather pass on all of those guys and scoop up Batum in the fifth or sixth round, using the earlier picks to fill up my other positions. Is it safe to say that I will be targeting Batum on all of my fantasy teams next season? Oiu Oiu.