If you haven’t seen this, I thought I’d pass this along as well. If you’re like me you’ll take just about ANYTHING Blazer related as we limp towards September and training camp/pre-season action. BEdger two4larue hit a Pujols-esque home run with his transcript of Blazer GM Kevin Pritchard’s recent appearance on Wheels At Work. In said transcript, KP talked a lot about the Euros but definitely had some eye-opening things to say about one Mr. Nic Batum. Definitely don’t want to step on the toes of someone who worked so hard, but definitely have to highlight a couple things.
“…he just feels comfortable and confident, and so he’s playing as well as any player in Europe, right now. He’s scoring, he’s getting to the basket, he’s had some phenomenal dunks in traffic where he’s elevating over people.”
“…but he’s also putting the ball in the basket and he’s playing with a lot of confidence…and again, we thought he’d have some growth but he’s an intelligent player and he’s really “coming” a lot faster than we even expected and hopefully that can transfer over to the season, because if he does he’s really gonna help us.”
“…if you ever have a 3-man who can shoot it, defend, has athletic ability and can slash then you’ve really got a player.”
The last quote from KP is what’s really sticking with me as I type this right now. It’s starting to make me believe that the 3-spot will be Batum’s for a long time to come. I mean let’s think about it here. In that lost quote, KP described the prototypical 3-man for this Blazer team. That’s the kind of player to stick in ther with Roy, LMA and company. A guy who can stretch the floor but who can also create offense for himself and possibly others. As we found out in the playoffs, we’re a little short on guys who can create their own offense, which led to Brandon Roy have to do the job of 7 men and a first-round exit. A perimeter player has to step up to the plate and embrace this role. It’s this issue that was the force behind acquiring Andre Miller. He may not be able to shoot to save his life, but two things you can count on from him: he can create scoring for himself and he can create scoring for others. The guy averaged 10.9 assists with Lamond Murray and Wesley Person as his go-to guys on offense.
Back to talking about the 3 though. Last year Batum could defend and was athletic, but far too tentative to be called a slasher and too inconsistent with his stroke. And that’s not good considering he basically turned into a spot shooter with an inconsistent stroke. Not to say he didn’t have his moments of attacking the basket, and not to say he couldn’t (or can’t) shoot. But during the playoffs he looked like Chris Brown when he got told he couldn’t talk to Rihanna for five years. Sad, lonely, afraid. And one month he’s shooting 42% from behind the arc and the next he’s shooting 34%. If this leap that he’s making is accurate, it changes the ballgame for the Blazers if you ask me. I’m not saying Batum’s going to be the next uber, superstar. I’m saying if he can learn to stroke it and be aggressive offensively…the sky is the limit for him and this team. It also vastly alters the situation at the SF. The argument that Martell-backers (ahem, Coup) have been making is that his skill set means that he SHOULD be the guy at the 3-spot. The argument for him has always been that he’s the only guy on the team at that position who at one time or another has shown some sort of ability to be more than a spot shooter. That was way more long-winded than it had to be, but you get the point. Outlaw’s already prove himself. Batum’s coming on the rise and if Batum can expand his game, there’s going to be some pressure put on Mr. Martell Webster.
This small forward situation could get messier than Jon & Kate Gosselin’s breakup. Ok, probably not bad but it could get ugly. Bubba Sparxxx-type ugly. No. I’m talking Heidi Montag performing at the Miss Universe pageant type ugly. Yeah, that’s about right.