trailblazers

Nicolas Batum breakout season making good on monster contract

Batum looks like budding star

Despite his most recent slump, Nicolas Batum started 2012 like he was finally turning a corner in his career.

Portland fans will remember Batum as the savvy frenchman who spent his summer talking about how badly he wanted to play with the Minnesota Timberwolves. That’s why Batum signed a $46 million offer sheet from the T-Wolves and implored Portland to let him go.

Unfortunate for Batum, Paul Allen is never one to let a potentially high-upside investment get away (see Brandon Roy, Rudy Fernandez, Greg Oden, etc.).

For the first time in a long time, it looks like Allen’s investment could pay off.

So far in the 2012/13 seasons, Batum is averaging career highs in every per game stat (17.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.6 steals). His 45.3 shooting percentage is just under his career mark of 46 percent.

One of the key moments on his season was the game against San Antonio.

Portland was fighting a gritty battle, but found themselves in a hole when the Spurs came out flying in the fourth. Frustrated, Batum stepped up and asked coach Terry Stots for the ball.

The end result was a career-high 35 points for Batum, and a near Portland loss. He finished his night shooting 63.2 percent from the field and 71.4 percent beyond the arc.

Nic Batum

Batum is growing into a budding star for Portland. (Photo: Steve Dykes / US Presswire)

Two games later, Batum would put up another 35 points against Houston.

It’s this new level of maturity that has Batum putting up his best numbers ever. He’s started to become a leader, and the offense can actually run through him. If he could shoot closer to 50 percent, it would put him on the cusp of All-Stardom.

Of course, Batum hasn’t been all greatness for Portland.

The small forward is currently mired in an awful slump. In his last four games, Batum is averaging just 10.25 points per game on 35.7 percent shooting. He’s a horrid 20 percent from the three-point line.

But even with his shooting slump, Batum is contributing in other ways.

He had five assists and two blocks in Portland’s win against Minnesota, and contributed 10 rebounds in the close loss to Detroit.

With his level of play at an all-time high, Batum actually looks deserving of his monster contract. As long as he keeps it up, Portland will have the stellar beginnings of their own Big Three.

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