Nicolas Batum reminds me of a spring day in Oregon. Just when the sun is shining and the air seems to be getting warmer, the clouds show up out of nowhere and it starts raining. One game, he is everywhere on the floor, cutting to the basket, blocking an opponents seemingly easy lay-up in transition, or draining multiple three pointers on his way to a huge stat night. The next game, he turns into Houdini, virtually disappearing from the game. He can be fun to watch when he plays like a star, and maddeningly frustrating when he seems to be content at just watching the action.
I believe that if Batum can play at a consistently high level, he would be a star in this league. How many times have we seen him shoot the lights out on his way to 20 to 30 points one night, and the next night, take 5 shots all game and end up with 4 points?
Last year, he started out like gangbusters averaging 16.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.5 steals and, 1.1 blocks per game, but by the end of the season, his total points per game dropped to 14. Part of what contributed to this was a wrist injury that nagged him for half the season, but some critics questioned Batum’s toughness. His trend of inconsistent play continued into the off-season as well, when he was playing for France in the Euro league (Although, he did lead his team with 17pts in the Championship game).
At this point, I don’t know if Batum will ever play at a high level consistently. He has been in the league for 5 years now and still hasn’t put it all together for long stretches. The good news is, he is only 24 years old and, just maybe, this is the year that the sun breaks through the clouds for good.
What do you think? Will Batum ever be consistent? Can he be an All-Star? Or will he be remembered as a player with loads of potential but just couldn’t put it all together for long stretches?