15.3 points. 5.9 rebounds. 4.9 assists. 1.2 steals. 1.1 blocks. Those are Nicolas Batum's
statistics through 53 games this season, and believe it or not, they are all career-highs for the fifth-year Frenchman who is currently enjoying a break-through season. And there's one person Nicolas is giving credit to for his success.
"I give all the credit to Coach Stotts, because he really let me play like I wanna play," Batum said. "He put me in a situation where I've never been before. I've been there before when I played in France, but never in the NBA."
The feeling was and still definitely is mutual from his head coach, Terry Stotts.
"I saw a lot of potential and one of my goals coming here was to see what he could do," said Stotts. "I felt like he was a multi-talented player who could do different things as a scorer, as a facilitator, as a defensive player and I wanted to explore those possibilities."
Stotts saw right. And no game showcased Batum's versatility more than his December 16th performance against the New Orleans Hornets in front of the Rose Garden faithful. While that game will always be remembered as the night Damian Lillard
hit the first of his (what we hope to be) many game-winner shots. But it was Nico who made history. Portland's small forward tallied 11 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds, 5 steals, and 5 blocks
to become the first player to achieve the rare 5x5 stat line since Andrei Kirilenko
did so during the 2006 season. Nico didn't stop there, though.
Just 36 days later, Nicolas crossed another goal off his list by recording the first triple-double of his young career January 21st against the Wizards as he posted 12 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds. One triple-double wasn't enough to wet his appetite. With the Clippers in town five days later, Batum thought thought it was fun the first time so he added a second triple-double to his résumé -- this time in a winning effort -- by recording 20 points, a career-high 12 assists, and 10 rebounds. And if Nicolas Batum has anything to say about the future, the best is yet to come from him.
"I want one time to have my jersey on the roof, too. If I can have my name near Clyde Drexler, Bill Walton, Lucas, all those guys. I just want to feel part of this family. I just feel great."
Nicolas Batum 5x5 photo courtesy of NBA Offseason Tumblr and Nicolas Batum gif via NBA Cool Dudes Tumblr.