Nicolas Batum's seven seasons as a Portland Trail Blazer came to an end last month when General Manager Neil Olshey traded him to Charlotte for Noah Vonleh and Gerald Henderson. During his time in Portland Batum was a "jack-of-all-trades" type who could be relied upon to stuff the stat sheet and defend the opposition's best perimeter player.
Batum's versatility came to the forefront in March 2014 when LaMarcus Aldridge missed a string of games due to injury. Batum, already one of the top assisting forwards in the league, would nearly lead the league in rebounds for the month, averaging 11.0 per game.
In addition to his statistical production, Batum was a regular fixture on nightly highlight reels. Over the last seven seasons, he used passing skills, athleticism, length, and feel for the game to create a wider range of top plays than any player other than Lebron James. Chasedown blocks, hot shooting, miracle assists, and posterizing dunks were all in Batum's highlight wheelhouse.
In celebration of his time as a Blazer, we've compiled a set of Batum's top 10 moments in a Blazers uniform. Here they are, presented in chronological order:
Dunk over Pau Gasol (January 4, 2009)
This dunk is actually one of two that Batum had over Pau Gasol during his rookie season. Perhaps motivated by national pride, these outbursts of athleticism, coupled with a "that's twice" hand gesture, were surprising moments of explosiveness from the usually withdrawn rookie.
22 point quarter against Minnesota (February 27, 2010)
After missing more than half the 2009-2010 season with an injury Batum quickly showed he was back in top form a month after his return.
Game winner against Spurs (March 25, 2011)
This play is my personal favorite. One of the exciting moments that remind us why we watch regular season NBA games.
Dunk over McGee and Booker (Feb. 14, 2012)
While the dunk over Gasol is more symbolically relevant, this facial over the Washington Wizards' Javale McGee and Trevor Booker was probably Batum's most impressive dunk for the Blazers.
Team record 9 threes against Denver (April 2, 2012)
Game winner against Cleveland (Dec. 1, 2012)
Portland and Cleveland have had several thrilling finishes recently. Most famously, Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving traded game winning daggers over the last two years. But before that was Batum's off balance corner three to beat Cleveland in 2012. Impressively, this was Batum's second apparent game winning shot of the game, after having his shot at the end of regulation waved off.
5x5 (Dec. 16, 2012)
Two weeks after his game winner against Cleveland, Batum recorded one of the rare statistical feats: the 5x5. Only seven other players have 5x5s in league history.
Bounce pass between legs to Meyers (Dec 22, 2012)
50 foot bounce pass to Lillard against Milwaukee
Alley-oop to Matthews (Jan 24, 2014)
One of the biggest mistakes of Nate McMillan's coaching tenure in Portland was failing to recognize Batum's playmaking abilities. McMillan's rigid offense did nothing to utilize Batum's unique skillset ability and often relegated him to standing in the corner as a three-point safety valve. When Terry Stotts took over as head coach Batum's playmaking became an integral part of Portland's success.
Chasedown block (March 26, 2013)
Block on Lebron (Jan. 9, 2011)
Here's one of his Batum's best blocks against former teammate Gerald Wallace. Batum was known around the league as being second only to Lebron James in chasedown blocks. As a bonus, I've included a Batum block on Lebron. Sadly these type of moments would become rare over the last couple seasons; fatigue and nagging injuries would sap Batum of some of his athleticism and he lost the ability to quickly close gaps to make plays.
Clippers game (March 4, 2015)
Batum's last great moment as a Blazer: Singlehandedly beating the Clippers with three consecutive alley-oops, a huge block, and the game-clinching triple.
Think we missed something? Share your favorite Batum highlight in the comments!