An early-season elbow injury and late-season Achilles injury limited the veteran to 64 games during his 10th season. While he was still able to provide all-around production -- 11.6 points, 5.5 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.4 threes, 1.0 steals -- each of those categories, except for steals, represented his lowest marks since joining the Hornets in 2015-16. Optimistic Fantasy owners could chalk up the down year to injuries and the presence of Dwight Howard. Pessimists could point to the fact that Batum is turning 30 and hasn't shot better than 42.6 percent from the field since 2013-14 -- what are the odds he’s getting better? Regardless, Howard’s departure without significant replacement should vault Batum’s usage up to the levels we saw during previous campaigns with Charlotte, where he posted 15.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.9 threes and 1.0 steals per tilt.
Batum has quietly been one of the best all-around wings in the league over recent seasons, as he continues to stuff the stat sheet at ease. Batum is averaging 15.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.0 steal and 0.5 blocks in his two seasons with the Hornets. His consistency is incredible too, as all those averages are within 0.2 of one another in that two-year span. In addition, this is a guy who rarely misses games, as he has played at least 70 games in five straight seasons, while averaging at least 34.0 minutes per contest in each individual year. Despite being a solid two-way player, Batum has some room for improvement with his three-point shot. He's a career 35.7 percent shooter from distance, so after shooting just 33.3 percent in 2016-17, Batum should be in line for a bounce-back effort. While Batum is unlikely to make an All-Star team in his current role, he's quietly one of the most valuable players to his team and is usually a solid mid-round guy in Fantasy drafts with his ability to fill up multiple categories across the stat sheet.
Coming off of an uncharacteristically poor 2014-15 campaign in Portland, Batum returned to form last season, averaging career highs in scoring (14.9 points per game) and assists (5.8), to go with 6.1 rebounds per game. The 27-year-old is among the NBA's most diverse two-way threats and joined Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Draymond Green as the only players to record at least 1,000 points, 400 assists, 400 rebounds and 100 made treys last season. Entering 2016-17, Batum's role is expected to remain fairly constant, though the return of a healthy Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will push Batum back to shooting guard after spending much of last season at small forward. That could result in a slight dip in rebounding, but should also enable Batum to relax a bit more defensively, given Kidd-Gilchrist's standing as an elite all-around defenders. A career 44.2 percent shooter from the field, Batum has room to improve after converting only 40 percent of his attempts in 2014-15 and 42.6 percent last season. The same goes for his three-point efficiency, which dipped to 32.4 percent and 34.8 percent, respectively, over the past two seasons.
In his seventh season, Batum averaged 9.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.6 blocks in 34 minutes per game through 71 regular season contests with the Blazers. Struggling with an array of ailments, including knee contusions, a torn ligament in his shooting wrist, and lower back pain, the French forward sank only 40 percent from the field, 32 percent from downtown, and 86 percent from the free-throw line. While Batum still produced in multiple categories and his free-throw percentage reached a career-high in 2014-15, his field goal and three-point percentages were both career-lows. As far as his shooting woes went, things didn't get much better in the postseason, where he posted 14.2 points on 34 percent from the field, 8.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 0.2 steals, and 0.2 blocks in 42 minutes per game through five games versus the Grizzlies. With the Blazers opting for youth in the post-LaMarcus Aldridge era, the team shipped Batum to the Hornets, where he figures to slide into the lineup alongside the team's assumed starting trio of Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Al Jefferson. Entering the final year of his contract, Batum turns 27 in December. If he is able to stay healthy and mesh well with his new teammates, he could be a decent bounce-back candidate in 2015-16.
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 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.
All signs pointed to a breakout season from Batum last year, and he delivered the goods, thanks to an 8.1 jump in minutes per game, settling in among the league leaders at 38.5 mpg. He has the look of a poor man's Kevin Durant, with shooting percentages of .423/.372/.848 last season that led to 14.3 points and 2.3 three-pointers per game. He will be a popular pick in drafts not just because of his sweet stroke, but his defensive counting stats that are aided by his ridiculous wingspan. Last season he averaged 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per game, and with a jump from 1.4 assists per game in 2011-12 to 4.9 apg in 2012-13, Batum established himself as a true eight-category contributor. The one worry here is that The Trail Blazers made some nice moves in the offseason to improve their abysmal bench from last season. Continued improvement from Victor Claver and the addition of Dorell Wright will likely mean that Batum won't see quite as many minutes in 2013-14.
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.
Batum was a big sleeper candidate going into last season, and he rewarded his owners by posting career-high averages in nearly every category. He played the majority of the season as the Trail Blazers’ starting small forward, averaging 12.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.6 three-pointers, 0.9 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 1.1 turnovers in 33 minutes of action over 67 games as a starter. Nonetheless, Batum will probably be moved back into a bench role to start the season, due to the Blazers’ acquisition of Gerald Wallace at last year’s trade deadline. (Wallace was forced to the four last year with Marcus Camby and Greg Oden out, and LaMarcus Aldridge moving to center). The Blazers traded Rudy Fernandez to the Mavericks on draft day, opening up a few minutes off the bench, but Batum probably won’t match last year’s numbers without a significant injury to a starter. If Brandon Roy and Wes Matthews get healthy, Batum could get squeezed even further.
An essential ingredient in constructing a successful fantasy team – just as with constructing a successful actual team – is in paying not for what a player has done, but for what he's likely to do. Will Joe Johnson be one of the best players in the NBA during his age-34 season? Probably not, but that's how the Atlanta Hawks will be compensating him – and as a result, they're likely to have problems in the 2015-16 season. Sometimes it's easy to pay a player what he's worth: LeBron James will likely be worth the money for awhile. Other times, it's necessary to be aggressive in the present for a future payoff. Owners in this last frame of mind would do well to consider Nicolas Batum. The young (he turns 22 in December) Frenchman offers a broad base of skills, including three-point shooting (40.9% last year on 3.6 attempts per game), steals, and blocks (0.7 per game of each while averaging only 25 minutes). There are two concerns for Batum this year: getting into games and, once he's there, staying in them. Batum missed 45 games last season, most of them coming as he recovered from surgery on a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Reports at press time suggest the shoulder is no longer an issue. As for the question of playing time, the Blazers last season had a logjam at the three, giving minutes to Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw, Rudy Fernandez, and Batum himself. For various reasons, none of those first three players will be in Portland this season, making Batum a good bet to log consistent run should he remain healthy.
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.