Blazers F Nicolas Batum Wins Euroleague Weekly MVP

SIAULIAI, LITHUANIA - SEPTEMBER 05: Nicolas Batum of France celebrates during the EuroBasket 2011 first round group B match between Serbia and France at Siauliai Arena on September 5, 2011 in Siauliai, Lithuania. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

There's been so much going on with the labor negotiations that it has been easy to overlook the fact that Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum has been killing it recently for SLUC Nancy in France. Indeed, as meru noted in the Fanshots, Batum was awarded MVP honors for the second week of Euroleague action. Week 1's winner was former Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko, who you will remember was Batum's key adversary during 2011 EuroBasket action.

Here's a write-up via Euroleague.net, which notes that he recently won Euroleague player of the week honors. (Hat tip to Blazersedge French correspondent Bruno)

With one spectacular play after another, supertalent Nicolas Batum made the first home game of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague season one to remember for the home fans in Nancy as the hosts pulled away to their first victory, 87-73 over Bizkaia Bilbao Basket on Thursday. Batum not only played nearly the entire game and flirted with a triple-double, but took over with 11 points in a 15-0 run in the final three minutes. The final boxscore showed the mercurial small forward to have a Euroleague career high 26 points - including making 11 of 12 free throws - plus 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals and 11 fouls drawn. That impressive performance left Batum with a performance index rating of 36, which was the most of any player in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague this week and earned Batum the bwin MVP honor for Week 2 of the regular season.    

Nick Gibson of SheridanHoops.com also took note. (Hat tip to emailer: Jakob)

One man who probably couldn't tell you what a Euroleague bench feels like is Nicolas Batum. After playing all 40 minutes in a Week 1 loss at Bennet Cantu, he sat only one minute and 12 seconds this week as Nancy took down the Spanish side Bilbao Basket 87-73 at home.

Apparently, that little bit of rest paid off: Batum threw up a ridiculous line of 26 points, seven rebounds and eight assists with a pair of steals and a ranking of 36 (think of ranking as a poor man's PER, without the per-minute and pace adjustments). Those stellar numbers were enough to earn him the Euroleague's Week 2 MVP award.

FIBA.com writes that Batum's play in Euroleague shows that he should have been given consideration for the EuroBasket all-tournament teams.

If anyone was unlucky not to make the all-tournament team at the EuroBasket, it was France's Nicolas Batum. There was not a more spectacular player from beginning to end at the tournament in Lithuania than the 22-year-old Portland Trail Blazer. He excelled on both ends of the floor as Les Bleus reached the Final and qualified for the London Games.

Now Batum is giving fans in his native country a chance to see in person just how dynamic and explosive he is because during the NBA lockout, he is playing for SLUC Nancy in the Euroleague and LNB. On Thursday night, Batum exploded for a game-high 26 points to lead the team to an 87-73 win over Bizkaia Bilbao Basket. Four of those points came on a pair of rim-rattling dunks. Batum also had seven rebounds, eight assists and a couple of steals.    

Here's a translated AFP article that calls Nancy's acquisition of Batum a "profitable investment."

The monthly salary of the player would be in the range from 13,000 to 18,000 euros, according to several sources. A figure probably four to five times less than what a player of such stature could have claimed another win in a European club.

Nancy also be responsible for one third of the amount of insurance for Batum, which amounts to 100,000 euros, depending on the player's financial advisor, quoted this week by the Equipe.fr. Two-thirds are borne by the player.

Acquiring the services of winger, a silver medalist with the Blues and the second leading scorer of the team behind Tony Parker (with 13.8 points) to the Euro in September, he knew Sluc a successful stunt, but also and above all, sportsmanship.

Since then, Batum has largely met expectations, taking responsibility and offering a line of statistics worthy of an American player. Enough to forget his predecessor Tremmel Darden, so vital last season.

Batum's reported salary range in United States dollars translates to $18,400 to $25,500 per month (not including insurance).

Here's a highlight video of his recent play via hollywood robinson in the FanShots.

Here's an extended play highlight reel from his monster game against Bizkaia Bilbao Basket via YouTube user m3lomanUP.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com Twitter

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