Aug 06

Doolittle: Batum Projects As Fifth-Best Small Forward

By caseyholdahl

Bradford Doolittle at continues the unenviable task of putting together position-by-position WARP projections for the 2013-14 season. After projecting Damian Lillard as the tenth-best point guard last week, Dootlittle lists Nicolas Batum as the fifth-best small forward based on projected WARP.
5. Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers
Projected 2013-14 WARP: 7.8

Batum's steady improvement hit a plateau in his fifth NBA season, and his 2.2 percent loss in usage rate suggests that playing alongside Damian Lillard may have actually impacted his game in a negative fashion. For Portland to get back into the playoff hunt this season, Batum needs to be a stronger No. 3 to the core duo of Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Right now, Batum is perimeter-oriented, but his 3-point success rate was just around league average last season. He's been around 40 percent a couple of times, and if he can get back to that, then perhaps he can make more plays off the dribble and get to the foul line more often.
Batum is preceded in the rankings by Kevin Durant (whose 2013-14 projected WARP of 18.3 is more than double that of the next small forward on the list), Paul Pierce (uh, yeah), Kawhi Leonard and Andre Iguodala. Batum is ranked above Danny Granger, Paul George, Andrei Kirilenko, Kyle Korver, Chandler Parsons and a whole bunch of other higher-paid small forwards who didn't even make the list.

Also worth noting that Doolittle decided to categorize both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony as power forwards, which is why neither shows up on the small forward projections.


  1. Not sure why he would decide to rank LBJ and Melo as PFs instead of SFs, but this seems about right for Batum. In fact, I think he could even jump to number 2 or 3 over this season. He has the potential to be the top SF behind Lebron, KD, and Melo. I expect Pierce to see his role lessened playing with the star-studded Nets, and Batum could potentially be just as good as Leonard or Iggy if his shooting percentages can jump a bit. I expect that with his wrist fully healed he will be a far more effective scorer this season and post his best numbers yet.

    by chris.barnes on 8/6/2013 9:06 AM
  2. It's worth noting that Batum's 'plateau' was more a result of his injuries than his ability to play alongside Lillard.
    Before his injury, i was very impressed with Batum's increased abilities. His tripple doubles and stats looking close to L. James' stats. I'm not saying he is anywhere as good as LJ, but that his stats were respectable enough to be compared to LJ's stats by analysts.

    by Jestatom on 8/6/2013 10:15 AM
  3. Chris: I think Lebron as PF (or anything, really) makes sense, but I agree that Carmelo seems like an odd omission. If you defend SFs, you're a SF. And Carmelo "defends" SFs.

    Jestatom: Yeah, you almost get dinged for playing through injuries, as national guys only know when a guy like Batum is OUT with injury.

    by caseyholdahl on 8/6/2013 10:46 AM
  4. Jestatom: I agree. Batum has the ability to fill the stat sheet any given night in points, rebounds, assists, steals, or blocks. Except for Lebron he's one of the most versatile stat guys around. I can't wait to see what he can do with another year of experience while fully healthy.

    by chris.barnes on 8/6/2013 11:04 AM
  5. My hopes for Batum is high, I still see a lot of taking plays and games off for odd reasons, which makes him somewhat inconsistent, but his ability to play D is what makes him noteworthy, as he can hold his own against LJ, KD, and the likes.

    I don't remember seeing Batum playing a year without injury. Maybe this will be his year.

    by Hg on 8/7/2013 5:16 AM
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