Batum NBA's 5th-ranked small forward: ESPN

Brad Doolittle (ESPN Insider) ranks Batum as the NBA"s fifth best small forward for next season:

4. Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors

Projected 2013-14 WARP: 7.9

Iguodala's efficiency dropped last season, which was a surprise considering his supposed fit in George Karl's system. His turnover rate jumped by more than 3 percent, and his 3-point shooting slipped from .394 to .317. Also, perhaps because he played more 2 than 3, his defensive rating fell off a little as well. ATH sees Iguodala bouncing back this season as a Warrior, though not quite to the level of his best seasons in Philadelphia. He turns 30 in January and another a drop in rebounding and his ability to draw fouls would be evidence that Iggy is losing a shade of his elite athleticism.


5. Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers

Projected 2013-14 WARP: 7.8

Batum's steady improvement hit a plateau in his fifth NBA season, and his 2.2 percent loss in usage rate suggests that playing alongside Damian Lillard may have actually impacted his game in a negative fashion. For Portland to get back into the playoff hunt this season, Batum needs to be a stronger No. 3 to the core duo of Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Right now, Batum is perimeter-oriented, but his 3-point success rate was just around league average last season. He's been around 40 percent a couple of times, and if he can get back to that, then perhaps he can make more plays off the dribble and get to the foul line more often.


6. Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers

Projected 2013-14 WARP: 7.4

We don't know yet if Granger's knee trouble is chronic, and ATH sees him recovering much of his pre-injury value. I'm skeptical. Even without the injuries, Granger is getting on in years as he will hit 31 near the end of the season. He's also likely to be Indiana's fourth option now with Paul George's emergence. If he can embrace that role with heretofore unseen efficiency, then he can help keep the Pacers in the title hunt.


7. Paul George, Indiana Pacers

Projected 2013-14 WARP: 6.8

Speaking of George, his playoff breakout isn't represented here, and subjectively, I do see that performance as a coming-of-age rather than a fluke. So while I can't get ATH to replicate the effect, I think George will soar near the top of these rankings and will supplant Granger in the former Indiana offensive hierarchy.

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