Oct 31

The New And Improved Nicolas Batum: Expectations Abound

By sarahhecht Posted in: NicolasBatum

This summer was an exciting one for Trail Blazers small forward Nicolas Batum. He played in the Olympics, tested the waters of free agency and ultimately landed right back where he belonged, in Portland with the team with which he’s spent his entire NBA career.

Batum’s journey hasn’t been perfect. He’s been plagued by a bit of inconsistency and openly admits he wasn’t fully himself during his rookie contract in Rip City, instead a more quiet and docile version. A Batum who knew his role and deferred to the leaders of the team in LaMarcus Aldridge and former Trail Blazer Brandon Roy, while improving all the while.

That Nicolas Batum is gone.

And tonight, in game one of that shiny new contract, he showed us the Batum who’s been waiting to step into the spotlight. Scoring 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting on opening night in Portland, Batum thrilled the crowd of more than 20,400 with acrobatic slams and clutch 3-pointers. Add to that six rebounds, four of them offensive, and it’s easy so deduce he’s got a bit of new swag. A “fire” he’s been waiting to show Trail Blazers fans since the team unofficially gathered in September.

“Now my status is different on this team,” Batum said. “Before I was waiting for B-Roy or all those guys to take the shot, now I have to take the shot. I know if I miss my teammate is gonna be like ‘don’t worry, shoot the next one.’”

You’d think with all the chatter around his inconsistency and the demands to “live up to the contract,” Batum would be a bit nervous. That couldn’t be further from the truth, Batum has gracefully stepped into a role he’s been waiting for. Add to that the responsibilities of taking a leadership role on this young Portland team and it’s easy to see this in a different Nic.

Post-game, Batum raved about how his teammates played but shied away from his own numbers. “What happen is balance tonight,” he said. “Three guys, almost four guys cause LA got 19, J.J. got double-double. The starter, we have to bring this energy every single night. And a guy like Sasha who come off the bench, he did great job. Nolan did an excellent job, Meyers did an excellent job too tonight, so the bench gotta be ready.”

Nudged to talk about his individual game he gave a little grin, knowing he’d played well, but not willing to claim victory over the doubters quite yet. “This is a long season, I have to bring it every night like I did,” he said. “I had a good shooting night tonight, it could be better, but I just try to bring it and lead the way and win games and play on defense. I know people are talking.They’re going to keep talking even if I play good.

“Consistency. It’s a huge part of my game this year and right now. I play a good game here, it’s gonna be huge game against OKC, I guard Kevin Durant, he’s not a bad player [laughs.] I gotta bring it on defense next game and then got another game in Houston, so we see what happen. All I can control is me on the court and try to bring it every night and that’s it.”

Well Nic, I’d say you’re off to a great start.


  1. Hey Miss Sarah: A great Blog as usual.
    As I am usually the first to comment on your Blog, are you getting the big head of thinking I may be a fan of yours? Mmmmm, may be some truth to that.

    I think Nic is here to stay; he will have his good days and bad, but if he stays this aggressive every game he will be in the high light reels on a positive note and will quiet some of the critique.
    To heap it on the Blazers some more, how about the play of Wesley, he had a little to prove also, and he did great. Boy what a defensive Duo that him and Nic are going to be this year, and with a great PG, what a different they will be on offense.
    Do you love the Play of DLill as much as I do? dumb question I am sure; but my real question might be are the Blazers much better then everybody thinks or was the Lakers that bad? We completely dominated them from start to finish and although Howard made his free throws he did not dominate the game or JJ.
    A great Blog, keep them coming.

    by Hg on 11/1/2012 2:59 AM

    by DamianLilard on 11/1/2012 6:27 PM
  3. Hey Damianlilard: I have been talking about this being the LL&L train; maybe it should be the triple L and BW train. Don't forget Matthews before his slew of injuries made the sophomore All star team.

    by Hg on 11/2/2012 4:09 AM
  4. our starters put up 103 pts against the lakers..that's just amazing! Nico was a leader all throughout this game and looked like an allstar. I love this team! Stotts coached an impressive debut! I'll take 5 guys with 20 pts over 2 with 30 every time!

    by riverman on 11/2/2012 9:28 AM
  5. Batum is exciting b/c for me he has always had that secret potential... a flash of brilliance like a chase-down block or a streak to the rim. Until you see him hustling like he did vs. LA, getting gritty and hitting offensive boards, there's a tendency to feel unsatisfied. But so far this season and preseason, I'm seeing EXACTLY what I want most out of Batum - Aggression, Effort, Leadership!

    by jsciv314 on 11/2/2012 1:29 PM
  6. Hi Sarah,
    This is Scottie's mom. Scottie is putting writing as a top priority as he battles a disease with no known cure or treatment. He has a feature column on the Stampede website, about the Blazers and Stampede. Yet, the Blazers blogs are hard to get comments on. It would mean a lot if some people would notice his blogs. He's been discouraged about writing on this site. He is "Bleeding Blazer Red" (terrible, yet accurate, pun). Thanks!

    by Blazermanialives on 11/2/2012 9:54 PM
  7. Hey Miss Sarahhecht:
    Maybe I should quit addressing you with Miss Sarahhecht as somebody is now calling himself Mr Sarahhacht:
    Anyway, I didn't get to see any of your show before the game, I also missed the part of the game when Batum put on his big boys pants and went to work. I have it recorded though and will watch it.
    I had to leave the game at half time being down 23 pts, and when I got back to TV we were in the middle of the 3rd and was only down 12, Wow what a comeback with Nic on CP3. I think we should see more of that in the future, Freeing Lillard up to do more. Of course we need to play Lillard some on these great PG that he will be amongst, but it doesn't hurt to duck the bullet once in a while for a rest. Anyway that looks to be a new weapon in our defense.

    The game last night adds to the wonders of Batum; his shooting in the first half wasn't very exciting, but from the sounds of things his second half play was FANTASTIC.

    by Hg on 11/9/2012 6:15 AM
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