Well, the Blazers sit now at 3-1 and we're just over a week into this season. I thought I'd take a minute to give some observations on Nicolas Batum to keep everybody not in Portland's market current.
Batum so far this year has not started a game, but has come in off the bench with Jamal Crawford to run the second unit. At times local media has criticized Batum for playing like he's feeling sorry for himself for being kicked out of the starting role by Gerald Wallace. I disagree.
True, Batum was declared to be one of the top three young talents in Euroleauge this year - and in Portland's system, he's the sixth or seventh option. And he was at one time the starter here in Portland. Is he pissed? Maybe. But his real struggle is that he's never been given permission to break out under McMillan's system. His entire career in Portland he's very specific instructions to let B Roy get his touch (no matter how slow he was going), and if not B Roy, let LaMarcus get his touch. Batum has always been the coach's third or fourth option on the floor. Now, on this second unit, he's just learning how to fit in with new players and running the floor (finally). Batum doesn't have it in him to throw tantrums and draw the ire of fans like Fernandez did.
Batum is still adjusting to running at a pace in an offense that doesn't cater to Brandon Roy. That's my take.
That being said, he's been one of the most consistent players thus far. He's averaging 24 minutes a game with 11 points and six boards on average in the young season. And he's got his average up to a full block per game while also seeing a rise in his FT% finally hitting 90% this year.
I'm happy. It's a good time to be a collector of a young player who's becoming a difference maker. Granted, Wallace has played wonderfully too, but when the rumors were out there that Wallace was up for trade in a three-team deal, it's not hard to see that the organization took what Batum has done over the summer to heart.
This video is his highlight reel from the Clippers game, he had some great clutch play that nearly got the Blazers back from the brink of the loss. Pouting? Shit. Boy's gaming.