Let me preface this by saying Nic Batum had an excellent game against Denver, which was one of the reasons an analytical discussion of Batum was necessary on this site.
So far, Batum has not been the consistent 30-point threat that we all wish he would be, let alone 20-point threat. This is Nic's 4th year in the league, and though he has seemingly improved over that span, it has not been to the tune that the World Championships have shown he's capable of playing. His time in France has signified that (1) he's capable of playing shooting guard; (2) playing high minutes; and (3) leading a team to success (i.e. the absence of Tony Parker for Team France).
Currently, Nic is averaging just under 12 points, 43% shooting (41% from the 3pt line), 4.2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 0.8 blocks a game. His PER is in the high teens (north of 17), and for the most part, he has been rather efficient in his time on the court. That said, he's currently making $2.15 million this season, and is a real bargain for a team with 3 guys making over $9.5 million a year. To gain a greater grasp of his efficiency, he had 6.6 win shares last season attributed to him, whereas LaMarcus had 11.1 win shares. LA is making $12.8 million this year.
Though Nic is young (23 years old) and has only been in the league for 4 years, it is very likely that we have seen 95% of what Nic can bring to the court. Not only has Nic been playing NBA ball, but he's been playing in the World Championships for years, and had started his basketball career playing for LeMans in France (rather than, say, playing some college ball with scrubs). So even though some might attribute an uber-High ceiling to Batum, we should likely hedge our bets and expect a bit more production, but not much.
Batum is shooting a career high from the 3pt line at 41%, but his career numbers are closer to 36%. His scoring is on par with his career per-minute averages; his blocks, assists, steals, and turnovers are all right in line as well.
The problem I see is that after this season, Batum will likely receive 4 to 5 times his current salary per year, going from a little over $2 million to closer to $8 to $10 million a year, for 4 or 5 years. Does this level of production, which has been consistent with his career averages, demand that much money a year?
Though we all love Batum and hope he rises with us, the thing we have to ask is:
How much do we give to the man who's efficiency, effort, and production will probably not gain more than a 10% increase across the board, though he will gain a 400% increase in salary?
If you feel that Batum deserves the $10 million he is almost guaranteed to receive (maybe closer to $8 or $9 mil) per year, maybe you're right. If you feel that we should trade Batum while his perception is at an all-time high, maybe you're right too. The question I am posing to you all is:
What do we expect from Batum's numbers in the future, &
What do these numbers demand in terms of salary?
Please feel free to comment below & agree or disagree with the statements I have made. I have kept this short and simple, so fill in the blanks that I have missed to paint a better picture of the situation. Lastly, please keep the discussion civil, as arguments involving the Blazers are always hot and heavy. This is a place to gain insight and opinions that aren't necessarily your own, so please refrain from bickering, name-calling, and senseless optimism (lol) ;)
(Will this guy EVER reach his ceiling?)