- Anthony Davis injury: 49ers tackle out vs. Seahawks
- UFC 181: 3 thoughts surrounding Robbie Lawler’s welterweight title win
- Hero World Challenge 2014: Tiger Woods’ short game fails with 2nd round 70
- Jim Harbaugh defends Colin Kaepernick’s press conference
- Tiger Woods returns, struggles to 77 at Hero World Challenge
- Pac-12 Championship Game tickets least expensive in 4 years
- MLB offseason 2014: Will Nelson Cruz be able to repeat his success?
- Kings’ Slava Voynov will face felony assault charge
- Tim Howard earns U.S. Male Soccer Athlete of the Year honor
- Is Robert Griffin III an NFL bust?
Nicolas Batum is the Blazers’ X-factor
- Updated: March 21, 2014
The Portland Trail Blazers will be a playoff threat because not many teams have the X-factor Portland has in Nicolas Batum.
When the season closes, their first-round match p will be either the Los Angeles Clippers or the Houston Rockets. Both teams should be prepared for a challenge.
These Trail Blazers are the dark horse for the Western Conference. The team is packed with talent. Loaded, really, from offensive juggernauts Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge to defensive stoppers Batum and Robin Lopez.
This is a team that leads the league in points per game (107.7) and rebounds per game (46.4). They allow a robust 103.2 points per game, but their offensive cap is limitless.
But, with Batum, the Portland faithful should be confident. He has “star” written all over him, but without the flash. A rebounding threat, sharpshooter, eagle eye court vision, shutdown defense and endurance. On Thursday in a 116-103 rout of the Washington Wizards, Batum put all of it on display with a complete line of 12 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in an efficient 34 minutes where he went 5-for-9 from the field and 2-of-5 from the three-point line.
But his contributions don’t stop on offense.
Batum leads the league in distance traveled per game (2.7 miles) and total (180.76). The term, “high motor” cliche applies to Batum. He’s the silent leader, willing to do everything to help the team win.
His stat line is plenty impressive without the on-the-court contributions. He averages 13.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game while playing primarily at small forward. He averages 1.8 three-pointers and nearly a steal and block per game in his 36 minutes of game time. The utility statistical line rivals superstars like LeBron James on a smaller scale.
The defensive impact is reflected by the mere notion that the Trail Blazers stick Batum on opposing superstars and let him play the entire game on a man-to-man basis. His passing expertise allowed Lillard to run with less pressure on offense and his three-point shooting prowess gives the Trail Blazers three great options beyond the arc.
Regardless of the team matchup in the playoffs, there will be little-to-no game plan against Batum. He’s simply too difficult to deal with.
Photo Credit: Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports
Latest posts by Timothy Lee (see all)
- The Los Angeles Clippers are closing out games - December 10, 2014
- Clippers’ defense finally shows up - November 21, 2014
- Clippers’ concerns revolve around defense and rebounding - November 7, 2014