trailblazers

What Nicolas Batum must do now that he has his big-time contract

Batum officially a Trail Blazer

The Nicolas Batum saga has finally come to an end, as the Portland Trail Blazers have opted to match the four year, $46 million deal Batum signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves this offseason.

Whether or not Batum has earned such a lucrative deal is up to each individual to decide, but what’s important to remember, is that contracts are given only partly on past production and heavily on future projections.

Batum is a good player, who has shown flashes of brilliance at times, but the kind of money he’ll be making could result in a whole new set of expectations moving forward.

General manager Neil Olshey believes that Batum will “absolutely live up to this contract,” and there are a few things the 23-year-old forward must do to make that happen over the next four seasons:

5) Earn Back Fans

Earning back the fans isn’t likely to be a No. 1 priority for any NBA player, but Batum and his agent may need a few solid PR moves following his desire to leave the organization for Minnesota.

The contract situation between Batum, the Blazers and the Timberwolves was heated this summer, and it was reported at one time that Batum wanted “no part of the Trail Blazers.”

We all know this is a business, but we also know that someone making so much money is going to have a lot of pressure to help carry a team to success.

Batum has always been a fan favorite in Portland, so retaining any lost fans shouldn’t be too difficult once he hits the court next season.

4) Continue to Improve Defensively

Nicolas Batum has been touted as a defensive specialist since arriving in Portland, but ESPN’s John Hollinger (insider) claims that the evidence isn’t there to show it just yet.

According to Hollinger, the Blazers allowed 4.19 more points per 100 possessions when Batum was on the floor.  Synergy Sports has also listed Batum as a top-5 worst defender in the NBA according to RealGM.

We’ve all seen Batum connect on his signature blocked shots, so we know what he can bring to the table as long, athletic perimeter player.

The potential for greatness is there, but the forward is going to have to convert his length and athleticism into production if he’s going to truly become the defender people think he can be.

3) Consistent 3-Point Shooting

Batum has shown at times that he can be the best three-point shooter on the entire Trail Blazers’ roster.

His nine three-pointers against the Denver Nuggets last season is a perfect example, but his numbers haven’t always been where they should be for such a good shooter.

Nicolas Batum

Batum must become consistent from beyond the arc, stay aggressive, and become a #2  option behind Aldridge.

In the seasons where Batum has played—and started—more games, his numbers have dropped from downtown, making you wonder what will happen when given more responsibility.

Nobody is going to claim that Batum is a bad shooter, but with more consistency, he could become straight lethal from three-point land in the future.

2) Become a Reliable No. 2 Scoring Option

The Blazers go-to scorer is LaMarcus Aldridge, and recently drafted point guard Damian Lillard is expected to be a high scorer as well.

Batum, however, will undoubtedly be looked upon for more of a scoring presence with the money he’ll be receiving next season.

Jason Quick of the Oregonian has reported that with Batum’s new contract will come “more offensive freedom.”

Having been utilized primarily as a spot-up shooter thus far, Batum’s scoring ability has been questionable with the types of looks he’s been getting.

He averaged a career-high 13.9 points per game last season, but that number should continue to rise if he is going to be relied upon for scoring outputs night in and night out.

1) Stay Aggressive

With the freedom to create more opportunities on the offensive end, there’s no excuse to remain timid.

Batum has gone through lengthy stretches throughout his young career where he has seemingly disappeared on both ends of the floor.

Part of this is on the Blazers for sticking him in the corner and not allowing him to create for himself, but having come across as passive in the past, it’s time to remain consistent from the first tipoff to the final buzzer.

Many players have fallen off the map after earning their first big pay days, but if Batum wants to become an integral part of the Blazers’ success, he’ll have to stay aggressive on both ends of the floor as we enter the 2012-13 season.

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About Bryant Knox

NWSB Editor. Portland native and Oregon graduate, On a non-stop mission to consume as much Ducks+Trail Blazers content as humanly possible. His love of sports is what attracts him to the game, passion for writing drives him to uncover the stories. Connect w/ Bryant today!
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