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Murray: Former Blazers F Luke Babbitt Went To Russia To Expand His Game

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Former Portland Trail Blazers forward Luke Babbitt reflects on his decision to play professionally in Russia before signing with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal caught up with New Orleans Pelicans forward Luke Babbitt, who said he went to Russia to play professionally this season to expand his all-around game after spending three years as a seldom-used shooting specialist with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Babbitt went to Russia with one goal. He wanted to diversify his game. During his stint in Portland, the 6-foot-9 forward was pigeon-holed as a 3-point shooter. He admits he didn't try to make improvements in other parts of his game. He became a shooter and when the shots weren't falling, he was benched. In Russia, the focus wasn't on getting back to the NBA. It was on improving his skill set, something he didn't think was possible if he was stuck in a limited role as a reserve with an NBA team.

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"When I went over there, I was just committed to playing basketball," Babbitt said. "You can have a successful career in Europe and make a good living. It's not like it's a horrible thing. A lot of people would give anything to have a job where you do what you love for a living. I didn't look at it like it would be horrible if I didn't get back to the NBA. Obviously I would have loved to get back to the NBA, but if I didn't and had a successful European career, that's great. If I get back to the NBA, that's even better."

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"Adversity builds your character, especially in basketball, where it can make you a better player," Babbitt said. "That's really the reason I went to Russia. Just to get better and go back to basics."

Murray's full story is right here.

Babbitt signed with Russia's BC Nizhny Novgorod back in August. He left the club earlier this year to sign with the Pelicans.

Babbitt will make his Portland return with the Pelicans on April 6.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter