caseyholdahl

Sep 24

Nicolas Batum Sees Something Else

By caseyholdahl Posted in: NicolasBatum
Sometimes, when talking to Nicolas Batum, minor things can get lost in translation. While Batum is more articulate, even in English, than the majority of his peers in the NBA, from time to time you can tell he's using a phrase that, when directly translated, doesn't  convey precisely the idea he's trying to get across.

But from time to time those slightly misappropriated phrases, ironically enough, more accurately portray the crux of what he's trying to convey better than a contextually perfect translation. That was the case when I recently asked Batum what he did this summer after France was eliminated from the Olympics.

"I just left London like the next day, went back to my house and got some rest, saw my family and try to see something else," said Batum. "I went on vacation to Greece, spent ten days in Greece, refreshed my mind, see something else."

See something else. While I assume that's not exactly what Nic was trying to say, it perfectly describes what he needed to do after an eventful summer that unfortunately concluded with Batum committing a now infamous foul on Juan Carlos Navarro at the end of France's 66-59 loss to Spain in the men's basketball quarterfinals at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

"What I'm mad about is what I showed to people about myself, what I showed about the game, about France, everything," said Batum. "I feel bad about it because that's not me. I'm human. I lost it. I just lost it.

"You don't want this type of action. I can't do it. You can't see that on the court. If the (International Basketball) Federation or the Olympics want to suspend me a couple games or fine me, I'm okay with that. I won't say anything."

Batum didn't like what he was seeing after enduring a lockout season, a prolonged contract negotiation and an earlier than expected exit from the Olympics. So for the first time in years, Batum forced himself to step away from the court in order to rest his body and gain some perspective.

"The (offseason) was really crazy for me. I needed rest. The first time, I think in six or seven years, that I got much time to rest before the season starts. I really needed it… Over the last 20 days I got some rest, but I know I have to be ready for this year so I came early this year because I want to be with the team. I want to show them that you can trust me."

When Batum says "you," he means everybody who roots for the Trail Blazers. Whether it's teammates or coaches or fans, Nic knows he's got a bit of reclamation work to do after a restricted free agency negotiation that played out more publicly than anyone probably would have liked. And while what happened this summer in Portland is substantively no different than what happens in various NBA cities nearly every offseason, Batum knows things play a bit differently in Rip City.

"This city and these fans know the game. They've had a lot of different, great players here," said Batum. "So with the contract I got, people expect huge things from me, and I understand that. So I don't want to disappoint them. I just want to bring it every night. I know my game. I know I can do something good. I know that. I know who I am and I know what I can do, but I have to work harder to be a great player.

"I want to be something in this league. That's why I'm here. I'm going to have some bad nights sometimes. Everyone has a bad night, but I'm going to try to have a lot of great and good nights. "

When Batum talks of being "something in this league," he discusses taking on the responsibility of being the second option when LaMarcus Aldridge is on the floor and knowing he needs to be the first option with Aldridge is out. He sets being an all-star as a realistic goal. And he talks about shedding his image as a talented but inconsistent performer. The franchise has made a commitment to Batum and he knows it's time to hold up his end of the bargain.

"I feel good because now I know the organization really trust me," said Batum. "Now I have to be there every night. There's going to be more pressure, of course. That's why I play this game and that's why I'm here."

With the old guard and old assumptions now gone, there's nothing standing between Batum becoming the player he thinks he can be. With a new GM, new coach and no fewer than eight new players, there's ample opportunity for a reboot, something Batum is looking forward to after a trying offseason.

"I think it's good to restart like this," said Batum. "With what happened the last four, five years, all the injuries, coaching situation, GM situation, everything got all drama. So now I think we're good. We have a new start, a fresh start. This city deserves a good team so we're going to try to show them they can trust us, they can come in every night to support us and try to make them proud."

That's the kind of something else everyone would like to see.

6 Comments

  1. Hoping Stotts finds ways to utilize Nic to his full potential. Would love to see him play a little point-forward and be a beast on the break. With his length and athleticism, no one should be stopping him in transition.

    by DHawes22 on 9/24/2012 3:17 PM
  2. Thank you Mr Casey
    Boy the time is getting close, I can feel it.

    DHawes22; there is no reason for Nic to play point forward now, with the amazing DLill, known as the LITTLE Devil. setting up all the players for easy buckets.

    I knew Batum would feel bad about that foul, because that is just not him, but we all lose it at times and do things we regret.
    I surely hope he can find that consistent playing because when he is playing hard he is great.

    by Hg on 9/24/2012 3:38 PM
  3. Is the season here yet? I am sooooooo ready. Looking forward to seeing Batum play the way we know he can. I have felt so bad for him these past two years because he was supposed to be our starter and then we got Wallace and well, we all know what that meant. Not as much playing time for Nic, a downgrade. Should never have happened. Nic should have slid into the 2 guard position but Wesley was pretty much the guy there. Then last year Nic finally got the chance to play the 2 guard and he played great, but Wesley was rightfully upset about it. Then Wallace left and Nic was playing the sf again, but we all know that the end of last season was all garbage all the time.

    It will be good to see Nic as our starter again, with more than 20 some minutes on the floor, we can finally see him shine. Go for it Nico.

    by Mieke Appel on 9/24/2012 11:34 PM
  4. Mieke Appel:
    I haven't commented to often on your post, but read them all and like what your input, U R a very smart BB person.
    I agree with getting Nic back in the starting five as SF is an important key for Nics confidence and the feeling of importance, He was in Nate's doghouse a lot and that is not the way to nurture Nic. Nic needs patted on the back and needs to know he is important. His contract may very well be the most important key to Nic's breaking out this year. Plus he is the Vet now and it is his job for the young uns to take from him, opposed to it being GW's job and it was up to him to take it away.
    Another tangible in Nic being a starter is him and Wesley play dynamic defense together, both individually and team defense; Nic is also a great team player, he will pass the ball to the hot shooter, he plays great off LMA, his back door cut is equal to Bobby Gross, if you are old enough to even hear of him, Of course he is only second to Babbitt on three point shooting. Of course like everybody else, I am looking forward to seeing Nic play with Lillard. He plays great with Tony Parker on the France National team and I believe, a little bias here, that Lillard will surpass Tony in time.

    Would you guess I am excited?

    by Hg on 9/25/2012 5:25 AM
  5. I love Nic but I just don't see him as a bona fide second option. He has no truly outstanding offensive skills. He can be a streaky shooter and has always been rather timid going to the hoop. He really can't beat you off the dribble either. His defense is great, however, and he hustles. I hope lofty expectations don't ruin his morale. He's lucky he's in Portland. In other cities fans might turn on him if he doesn't produce. I truly hope I'm wrong but I think we may have paid too much.

    by teradasan on 9/25/2012 8:49 PM
  6. really tired hearing about batums potential. he can be great this.. great that.. show it consistantly. otherwise he needs to go, because honestly? hes an below average offensive player and an average defender. sure he has the occasional highlight on both ends. which is what fans remember...(i guess that's what makes him a "great defender") but so does JR Smith. so does Gallo. so does MaGee. ect... lalala.

    did he deserve his contract? not really but neither have an abundance of others that got paid for potential.

    talk is cheap. show it.

    be different if he had less than 3 years experience. but hes a "vet" now. shouldn't need to be told hes amazing. go do your job.

    by Brandon Weinant on 9/28/2012 10:09 AM
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