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Nicolas Batum Wasn't Anyone's Fantasy in 2014-2015

Nicolas Batum shorted the Portland Trail Blazers and Fantasy Basketball Owners in 2014-2015. How should we view the upcoming 2015-2016 campaign?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Nicolas Batum had a less than memorable 2014-2015 Fantasy Basketball season. Outside of steals (1.1) and free throw percentage (85%) Batum fell short of his 2013-2014 output and even shorter than his 2012-2013 numbers that led him to a top ten Fantasy Basketball performer and easily a top ten pick in the 2013-2014 Fantasy Basketball season.

Here's how Rotowire saw Batum in 2009-2010


The 20-year-old Frenchman was a surprise starter for the Blazers last year. While he only played 18 minutes per game, Batum provided the starting unit with solid defensive play and the ability to hit an occasional three. As his scoring average would indicate (5.8 ppg), Batum doesn't figure into the offensive game plan much, but he should see more shot attempts as his long-range game improves.

Batum far and away exceeded expectations in the 2009-2010 campaign doubling his point total (10.5) and showing increases in each of the main Fantasy Basketball scoring categories. Even with that Batum still hadn't cracked the pre-season Fantasy Basketball top 150 and went undrafted in most standard leagues for 2010-2011.

I think it's important to revisit what Rotowire had to say about Batum prior to the 2012-2013 Fantasy Basketball season.


Batum, who was a restricted free agent this summer, will be back with the Blazers to try and improve upon his solid campaign from a year ago. He is something of a poor man's Kevin Durant, with his lanky frame, smooth jumper and impressive shooting percentages. He averaged 13.9 points, 4.6 boards, 1.0 steal and 1.0 block per game last season- all career highs. His real value comes from his efficiency. He shot 45 percent from the floor, 39 percent from three, and 84 percent from the line last year. Batum will be 24 this season and could improve, making him a high-upside pick on draft day.

His season was fantastic and Batum turned into a Fantasy Basketball stats stuffer. He also cracked the top 100 for the first time and exceeded expectations finishing 48th in Fantasy Basketball player efficiency and 6th among small forwards.

The 2013-2014 was arguably his best Fantasy Basketball season. Batum was projected to finish 13th in Fantasy Basketball ratings and finished in the top 4 among small forwards and 37th among all Fantasy Basketball players. He was also seen by many as a top ten Fantasy Basketball pick. The "poor man's Kevin Durant had finally arrived on the Fantasy Basketball scene!

Here's what Rotowire had to say prior to the 2014-2015 season


Supplying a career-best 7.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game in 2013-14, Nicolas Batum's other primary counting stats nonetheless suffered. On offense, his output (13.0 points on 1.8 treys per contest) marked lows among the last three seasons, which may have been spurred by an avulsion fracture to his left middle finger that he suffered in early January and which required the use of a splint for the rest of the season. On the other end of the court, the 6-8, 200 pound Frenchman failed to average at least one steal and one block, a benchmark he'd accomplished the previous two seasons, instead tallying 0.9 swipes and 0.7 swats per game. However, in addition to the aforementioned fractured finger, Batum gutted out various maladies to log the first full 82-game schedule of his six-year career. With an all-encompassing game already at his disposal, the righty stated a desire to develop his left hand and hone his post-game during the offseason. After netting 75 percent of his shots at the rim last season, an expansion of his offense down low would do wonders for a Blazers team that ranked third in points per 100 possessions with 112, as well as relieve the burden placed upon dynamic duo LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard.

I can't say for certain why Batum missed the mark in nearly every Fantasy Scoring category but he did. He finished number 88 in Fantasy Basketball efficiency and finished the season rated #61 by ESPN's Player Rater. He also finished #17 among small forwards. It was a far cry from his pre-season projections that's for sure.

So where does Batum rank for 2015-2016? That's a really good question. It's one that isn't all that easy to answer either. Whatever caused him to fall so dramatically last season is anyone's guess.  Batum blames it on participating in too many camps during the offseason. He also plans on playing this summer for France so how much he actually plays for them while remaining healthy is at this time unknown.

The other factor is the Portland Trail Blazers themselves; if for whatever reason LaMarcus Aldridge decides to take his talents elsewhere and what the Trail Blazers ultimately decide to do with this team will have a huge impact on Batum's Fantasy Basketball value. Batum could be traded or be looked at as a top scoring option. That also is up in the air at this time.

Another factor in determining Batum's Fantasy Basketball value is his contract; Batum is heading into the last season of a four year deal that will make him an unrestricted free agent at seasons end. A bounce back season coupled by the new larger salary cap would earn him a pile of cash so there's also that incentive.

If I had to rank him in terms of value right now he should still be considered a top 20 small forward and more than likely should be drafted in a ten team league no later than the seventh round. If he somehow returns to the stat stuffing of 2013-2014 picking him up in the seventh round would be considered a steal.