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Arnovitz: Nicolas Batum & Joel Freeland Among Olympics Top-10

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com includes Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum (France) and big man Joel Freeland (Great Britain) on his list of top-10 performers during the group play stage of the 2012 London Olympics basketball tournament. ----------------------------------- Nicolas Batum, France: The lanky forward has had a big offseason, inking a four-year contract north of $40 million with the Portland Trail Blazers Portland after being the chew toy in a tug-of-war between Portland and the Minnesota Timberwolves. After he sputtered in France's opening loss to Team USA, Batum has emerged as one of the more effective transition wings in the tournament. The defense has been decent, if unexceptional, but Batum has slithered his way to a number of rebounds in traffic. There won't be a more interesting player to watch during the quarterfinals and beyond, because for all that production (16.8 points per game on 60.4 percent shooting), our overall evaluation of Batum will be his capacity to take control of the game on at least one side of the ball. Joel Freeland, Great Britain: The big Brit has been a gritty irritant on both ends, doing his best Nick Collison imitation. Freeland fights front to low post, and has also shown flashes of a nice left shoulder game. He was a horse down the stretch in the heartbreaker against Spain, and his big frame is deceptively mobile, one reason he has nabbed 10.6 rebounds per 40 minutes. ----------------------------------- Monday's write-up of Batum, Freeland and forward Victor Claver (Spain) can be found here. -- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter
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