The Flying Frenchman. One of the most provocative, intriguing & athletically talented player on the Trailblazers right now. His first year he won the starting small forward spot due to his defense & his high percentage shot selection. His second year after overcoming shoulder issues his confidence in his role rose & when that happened his shooting percentages shot up.
He is now 22. He is nearing a turning point in his career. Now a 3 year veteran, this team needs scoring with the mess that is this Brandon Roy situation. We have added Wesley Matthews, who helps spread the floor on offense but more importantly takes some pressure off Batum because we now have two good perimeter defenders, a must when facing any team with two elite ball handlers. Over the next two years, Batum will either prove that he can play consistently at a high level or you are a simply a good open shooter & defender - a role player.
Lets take a look at what a few former & current NBA players careers may project what to expect from Nicolas in the coming years.
Tayshaun Prince: One of the best role players of the decade. Was a critical piece on the Pistons Championship team. Good defender with great length who can guard most 3's and smaller 4's. Solid rebounder, decent passer & a good team mate.
I love, Tayshaun, don't get me wrong. However I think he is sort of a "basement" as opposed to "ceiling", for Nicolas. Batum is already a better defender then Prince. A better outside shooter & is very close in terms of rebounding. Nicolas is similar to Tayshaun Prince as a player & their body types are near identical. However Nicolas still has a lot of potential to fufill. Even if Nic doesn't develop into a superstar, I still think he is the type of role player you want to build around.
Scottie Pippen: The player most often referenced around here & the Blazers themselves is former the Chicago Bull/Portland TrailBlazer. The Robin to Michael Jordan's Batman. Arguably one of the greatest complimentary players of all time. Great defender, passer, rebounder. Smart enough to know when he has a defender that is smaller then him, he could post them up. He handled the really ball when other teams would be determined to make everyone besides Jordan beat them.
Batum is far more lanky, and I doubt he will fill out to Pippen's size. The contrast I see in his game to Nico's, at least so far is being aggressive overall, but particularly with his passing & dribbling. That is not to say Nic cannot develop those parts of his game, as he is still very young at 22 years old. Take a look at what Pippen did at age 22. It is really quite amazing to think what Nicolas has accomplished at age 22 in the NBA, compared to a Hall of Famer like Scottie Pippen & Batum is already a much better 3pt shooter.
Reggie Miller: My personal favorite comparison & one of my all time favorite non-Blazers. One of the greatest pure shooters in NBA history. Loyal. Clutch.
He is much more comparable in my opinion, then Pippen or Prince. Batum's lanky frame is much more reminiscent of Miller then it is Pippen's. I don't see Batum ever being the passer Pippen was either, however Miller's career average three assists per game seems plausible for Nicolas to achieve, especially as he gets more minutes. I've also seen some similarities in their shooting strokes with the high release & arc. The shooting percentages also compare favorably, however Batum has quite a small sample size yet so we won't go overboard just yet in comparing him to 31.
Finally, click here for a comparison of Batum, Prince, Pippen & Miller all age 22(Keep in mind that Batum has two extra years of NBA experience on each of the others mentioned & compared to last year his percentages declined a bit).
Feel free to comment & discuss all things Batum !