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Pelton: Find More Minutes For Blazers F Nicolas Batum

Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus gets on the "play Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum more minutes" bandwagon... ------------------------------- There’s a threat coming to the Blazers’ balanced mix, however, and it’s the impending free agency of forwards Gerald Wallace and Nicolas Batum. Having two starting-quality small forwards has made for an uneven situation, especially given Wallace’s well-founded reticence to play the four on a regular basis... Portland is outscoring opponents by a remarkable 11.4 points per 100 possession with Wallace on the floor, per BasketballValue.com. ... Cutting Wallace’s minutes noticeably doesn’t make sense, but McMillan would be wise to get Batum more run while resting his starters a little more. Last night, the Blazers’ entire starting lineup was on the floor with 8:34 left in a seven-point game. With Portland’s lead in little imminent jeopardy, McMillan could easily have gone with reserves Batum and Crawford somewhat longer. The other wild card here is that Batum is capable of playing more shooting guard than he has this season. Crawford’s presence makes that slightly trickier, but Wesley Matthews is playing 33.1 minutes a night–as many as Wallace. Dropping that number even to 30 a game could help McMillan find more minutes for Batum off the bench. This isn’t just a matter of keeping Batum happy; he’s a starting-caliber player who needs to be on the floor, especially during a season where resting starters is more crucial than ever before. ------------------------------- -- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter
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