Portland Trail Blazers: 4 role players who became household names in the Playoffs

Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) /
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Portland Trail Blazers
Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Scouting Report. F. 2014 NBA Playoffs. Nicolas Batum. Pick Analysis. 1. player. 34

2014 NBA Playoffs – Per Game Stats:

  • 15.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists per game
  • 47.2 percent shooting, 35.0 percent from deep. 80.0 percent from the free throw line.

The NBA’s salary cap jump during the 2015 offseason earned Nicolas Batum a lot of money — enough money for him to feel the need to apologize for. With the small-ball era approaching at an intrepid pace benefitted to the tune of a $120 million contract, virtually the last of its kind.

The only way one could even begin to justify that is to look at Batum’s body of work over his last few years in Portland. He walked the tightrope between intrigue in wonder — since he was fourth in pecking order behind LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews — and enough production to keep opposing GMs interested.

Over a four-year span from 2011 to 2014, that production looked like this: 13.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and a 57.3 true shooting percentage on just 10.5 shots.

But make no mistake about it: when Batum became a semi-household name and fattened his wallet, he did so in the first-round of Portland’s series against Houston.

How so? How else do you explain Batum and Chandler Parsons getting supersized paydays right after this series? Every GM in America had to have been tuned in.

What gets lost among the brilliance of Lillard and Aldridge is that Batum went through an incredible three-game stretch between Games 3 and 5, where he did this:

— 26 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals on a 59.7 TS%

— 25 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 0 steals on a 52.8 TS%

— 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks on 68.9 TS%

Part of this came after Parsons caught the public eye for saying he was the best small forward in the series. In the second round against the Spurs, one could argue that Batum was the most consistent too. For even this brief time, he balanced out the Pippen-esque mindset of attacking as a tertiary option, while playing strong defense. While he’d never see the second round again, he used this time to breakout, and earn the money of a top-25 player in the NBA.