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Nicolas Batum: What is an all star?

Lots of talk lately about whether a player like N. Batum should be considered an all-star. This discussion purely depends on the criteria one adopts to define an all-star. If your criteria heavily emphasize scoring, commercial endorsements, charisma, media coverage, and twitter followings, Nicolas by no means should be an all star. However, if you consider things that are important to having winning basketball teams, attitude, skill diversity, willingness to do what is best for the team, and defense, then few other players deserve it more than him.

Many fans have made a case for other forwards such as Cousins, Leonard, Iguadola, Davis, and Lee, though purely speculative, I wonder what would happen if these players were to switch teams with Batum. Would the blazers necessarily be even more successful? Which of these plays could, and, more importantly, be willing to do the things that Batum is currently doing? Generate similar assists (keep in mind, we track only successful assists- but aren’t attempted assists that didn’t count equally as important?), have the ability to play lock-down defense on the opposition's best player, be willing to play second fiddle to other team mates when an scoring opportunity or rebound is available, and making more of his presence felt without scoring. '

Conversely, consider the impact to the other teams if Batum were to be added to their roster - We all saw what happens when a third string scoring option like James Harden is moved to another team. I'm not saying that New Orleans, Sacramento, or any of these other teams would have been one of the top teams in the west or clear championship favorites had they had Batum on their roster, but, consider Nic's production if he were the first or second scoring option on these teams. If he were the go-to guy when the game were on the line. With his diverse skills, I think his numbers would be considerably more impressive.

Many detractors have sited Batum's inconsistency this year and mentioned he may have been more worth of selection last year if it weren't for his injury. I disagree with that assessment. Nicolas is playing exactly the role that's needed this year given the growth of LA, Dame, Wes's skills and the addition of RoLo. It took him a few games to reconfigure his game (hence the inconsistency,) but how many other players have the skill set to make such changes successfully? I would argue that he has become more consistent now that he has figured out and accepted this role.

Ultimately, the NBA has clearly adopted the first set of criteria because it is necessary for its commercial success. however, If the ultimate goal of any team is to win a championship, then perhaps, the most compelling argument in favor of Nicolas Batum's selection as an NBA All-Star is that every championship team has to have someone like him to win.

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