Nicolas Batum went for a layup that was contested by Will Barton in yesterday’s practice. The two collided and Batum hit the stanchion. After being evaluated, it was determined that Batum suffered a concussion from the impact. He was immediately removed from practice and declared “out indefinitely.” It sounds like the concussion is a bit worse than the one Barton sustained last week, so don’t expect a similar turnaround in sub-seven days.
What will happen for Batum:
He will undergo the league’s concussion protocol before returning to action. This basically means that he will not exercise until asymptomatic at rest, then will not practice until asymptomatic during exercise, then will not play until asymptomatic in practice. This means he will miss tonight’s game against the Phoenix Suns and probably Friday’s game against the Utah Jazz (minimum). The longer he is out, the more comfortable I am with his return.
What will happen for the team:
The Blazers will continue to function without their core intact, albeit at a lower level. The upside to the 7th Blazer injury of training camp and those that preceded it, is that Portland’s bench will get more practice than anyone else’s. Meaningful minutes for Will Barton, Allen Crabbe, Victor Claver, and Thomas Robinson abound in the temporary absence of CJ McCollum, Nicolas Batum, Dorell Wright, and LaMarcus Aldridge.
NBA pre-season is the highest level of off-season competition these guys have seen (with the exception of Victor Claver, who participated in EuroBasket 2013). I am more than happy to allow extended minutes for the players that need them while it does not affect Portland’s record. It will be sloppy, but it is essentially a jumpstart for the success of the Blazers’ most ambitious improvement— the new bench; Most of which is now gaining valuable experience.
The only real downside to the recent rash of injuries (besides the injuries themselves) is that regardless of how much time anyone plays, no one gets to truly fill the role they were intended to. If anything will undo the hot start Portland is hoping for, it’s this. The most important aspect of team building on such a drastic scale is chemistry, so Terry Stotts must work extra hard to make sure each role is clearly defined in practice despite the change in game plan.
Portland will take on Phoenix in the Moda Center tonight at 7:00 p.m. PST, however, the game will not be televised.