Former Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum is reminiscing about what could have been with the franchise.
In a recent Twitter Q&A initiated by the 14-year NBA veteran, now a member the Los Angeles Clippers, Batum was asked which of his former teams he would like to play for again? His answer: the 2009-2010 iteration of the Blazers — with one caveat.
09/10 Blazers without injuries https://t.co/NIlwfpmH9d— Nicolas Batum (@nicolas88batum) July 24, 2022
Much has changed since the 2009-2010 season, just Batum’s second year in the NBA. Blazers franchise star Damian Lillard was still a little-known sophomore at Weber State. Mike and Mike were still on the broadcast call. And the Blazers fielded an up-and-coming roster centered around the nucleus of three-time All-Star Brandon Roy, future All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and 2007 NBA No. 1 overall draft pick Greg Oden.
That season, Roy averaged 21.5 points, 4.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds. Aldridge averaged 17.9 points and 8.0 rebounds. Oden, in his third season with the club, provided a defensive anchor to the offensive one-two punch, averaging 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 23.9 minutes. The 7-footer only appeared in 21 games that season, all of them starts, after a fractured left patella in December sidelined him for the rest of the year. It would be the final time Oden played in an NBA game for Portland.
The injury bug also bit Batum that season. He only played in 37 regular season games, averaging 10.1 points and 4.5 rebounds while shooting above 40% from the three-point line.
Despite Oden and Batum missing most of the year, Portland finished the 2009-2010 season with a 50-32 record, good enough for sixth-best in the Western Conference. The Blazers were bounced from the NBA Playoffs in the first round, taking the No. 3 seed Phoenix Suns to six games.
After dismissing Portland, the Suns — led by two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash and All-Star big man Amar’e Stoudamire — made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
Batum, now 33, began his NBA career in Portland and spent seven seasons with the franchise between 2008 and 2015. He, like Aldridge, has the unique perspective of playing an integral part in both the Roy Era and the Lillard Era. After his time in Portland, Batum spent five seasons in Charlotte before joining the Clippers before the 2020-2021 season.
This isn’t the first time Batum has looked back on his time with the Blazers in a Twitter Q&A. Last month, he revealed former Blazers point guard Andre Miller was the NBA teammate who taught him the most during his career. The two played together during two seasons in Portland, the first being the 2009-2010 campaign.
It turns out Batum — like a lot of Blazers faithful — also daydreams about what could’ve been had the trio of Roy, Aldridge and Oden stayed healthy, even all these years later.