I posted a blog at the beginning of the season that the Blazers needed Batum, Wes, Lillard, Hickson, and LA to play like superheroes this season if Portland was going to experience any success. So much had been written about the free-agency drama this summer with Nicholas (and his delightful agent), which continued through the start of the season about not living up to his contract, a lack of consistency, and a genuine distain for the word “patience.” Now over a third into the season, those conversations regarding Batum have changed drastically, if not disappeared entirely. And here’s why:
Batum has played through illness and a tough injury to his back that hampered him for half a dozen or more games because, as he put it, “the team needs me.” He has missed only 1 of 34 games. And during that time, he has asks Stotts to allow him to guard the best opposing team players and shuts them down. Don’t let the smile and playful demeanor fool you. Batum knows exactly what he is doing.
In 33 games, Batum:
Recorded the only 5x5 in the NBA since Andre Kirilenko in 2005-06 season
(11 Pts, 10 Ast, 5 Reb, 5 Blk, 5 Stl)
Has more 8 or more assist games of any non-guard (7), except LeBron James
Has the most Double Doubles in Points/Assists for any non-PG (2), other than James
Ranks 33rd in Assists per Game (4.5) among players with 25 or more games played
Ranks 7th in APG among non-PGs with at least 25 games played
Ranks 3rd in Blocks Per Game (1.2) for all non- PF/Cs and tied with Kevin Durant
Ranks 5th in Minutes Per Game (38.5) and tied with James
Ranks 24th in Steals Per Game (1.5) and tied with James and Wesley Matthew!
(Shameless Blazer Plug!)
Ranks 40th in Points Per Game (16.3)
Ranks 79th in Rebounds per Game (5.5) which isn’t great, but consider, Batum -
in Three Pointers
Made per Game (2.5)
And in the last 5 minutes of games, when the game is within 5 points (In the Clutch), Batum’s True Shooting Percentage is up from 57.4% to 64.6%, and from every spot behind the 3 point line, he is killing it: 3-6 from the corner, and 7-16 from the wings. In fact, look at his +/- stats on the season:
||In the Clutch
(A nearly 54 point swing.)
For those of us that have watched Batum’s patent, chase down blocks, aly-oop dimes, Spidey-sense steals, and clutch - even game winning – threes, Batum is living up to every cent of his contract. His athleticism, length, and skill set are so unique that his presence on the court makes scoring AND defending a nightmare for opposing teams. The only thing Batum can’t do is shoot spider webs from his wrists. But even Spider Man wasn’t very accurate with those webs when he first started fighting crime. And face it, Batum has only just begun.
UPDATE: With 28 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block, Batum single handedly kept Portland in the game versus the defending NBA champion, Miami Heat. Down 13 with 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter, his play was vital in bringing Portland dead even with 4 minutes to play, eventually allowing Wes Matthews to shut the door in the final minute for a spectacular 92-90 Blazer win.