Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum executed a vicious chase-down block on Brooklyn Nets forward Gerald Wallace during a 111-93 loss at the Rose Garden on Wednesday. Here's the video via YouTube user G4NBAVideos.
Joe Freeman of The Oregonian wrote a piece this week on Batum's chase-down blocks.
"I've kind of got this reputation were maybe guys are like, ‘Shoot, Batum is here,'" Batum said. "It's one of my favorite things to do."
"I always liked to block shots," Batum said. "When I started to get older - 15, 16 years old - and I started to play small forward and guard, I couldn't block it like I used to when I played inside. So when I would see a guy going down the court on a fast break, I used to run behind him and get the block. And then I would do this ..."
Back in May 2010, I dubbed Batum the "Prince of the Chase-down" and charted his chase-down blocks that season. He executed five chase-downs in 37 games at the time of the analysis, numbers compromised by a long-term shoulder injury.
This week, I went through the same procedure as I did in 2010, reviewing Synergy tape of all 82 of Batum's block shots this season to date. By my count, Batum has executed 17 chase-down blocks so far. My criteria for counting them, in case you somehow forgot over the past three years...
- The offensive player had to make a direct path towards the basket without a significant pause, stop or pump fake.
- The offensive player had to attempt a layup or dunk.
- The defensive player had to come from behind (or mostly behind) the offensive player and not from his side or from in front of him.
- The defensive player had to block the shot in the vicinity of the basket area and while in the air, without fouling.
That makes chase-downs a full 20 percent of Batum's blocks this season. What stood out in the film study is how often he uses the chase-down principles of surprise and stealth in non-transition settings, often suckering smaller players into attempting basket-area shots that he can swipe clean.
What also jumped out of the film is how easy it was for a number of teams -- especially those who aggressively look to push pace, like the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets -- to get out into transition against Portland after turnovers, missed three-pointers and even low-post opportunities. The Blazers allow the fourth-most fast break points per game this season according to TeamRankings.com.
Batum is doing his part to clean up messes -- in highlight style -- but there's no doubt Portland's coaching staff would trade a good chunk of his chase-downs for a regular commitment to team transition defense.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter