NBA Rumors: Nicolas Batum Won't Make Minnesota Timberwolves an Elite Team

Oren FriedmanCorrespondent IIJuly 15, 2012

PORTLAND, OR - JANUARY 09:  Nicolas Batum #88 of the Portland Trail Blazers handles the ball against LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat during a game on January 9, 2011 at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)
Tom Hauck/Getty Images

While the Minnesota Timberwolves pursuit of restricted free agent Nicolas Batum is encouraging to a fanbase desperate to win, acquiring the Portland swingman will not be enough to put the Wolves among the NBA’s elite.

After failed attempts to acquire Batum via sign-and-trade, Minnesota is ready to offer the French wing a four-year offer sheet worth $46.4 million, according to’s Ric Bucher).

Adding Batum would give the Wolves a formidable roster—one that already boasts All-Star power forward Kevin Love, point guard Ricky Rubio and newly signed Brandon Roy

Batum brings a solid skill set to the roster, but even that will not be enough to propel the Wolves into the NBA’s upper echelon. 

Here’s why the Wolves won’t get past the first round of the playoffs next season, if they make it to the postseason at all. 


Playmaking Deficiencies 

Without Ricky Rubio the Wolves were among the cellar dwellers in terms of playmaking.

By the end of the season they ranked 24th overall, with just 19.5 assists per game as a team. Rubio’s 8.2 APG will be crucial for the Wolves in the future, but a prolonged recovery from a torn ACL could be devastating for the team early next season.

Brandon Roy will bring some added offensive punch, but his durability is yet to be proven, given his chronic knee injuries. 

Despite Batum’s capabilities, he really does not offer much in the realm of playmaking. 

Last season he averaged a paltry 1.4 APG on an underachieving Blazers squad. 

His ability to score on second shots is nothing to brag about either. At 6'8", Batum has averaged just over one offensive board per game, despite his long frame and incredible 7’1” wingspan.

If Batum plays for the Wolves, he would slide in nicely as the starting 3, but would by no means be the team's offensive savior next season. 


Inhibiting Cap Flexibility 

Batum’s numbers do not suggest that he is worthy of a $46.4 million deal. 

Last year’s career-best numbers of 13.9 PPG and 4.6 RPG were underwhelming at best, especially considering the dearth of talent on the Blazers roster.

Outside of LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland did not offer much last season. It could have been the perfect opportunity for Batum to establish himself as an integral member of the Blazers squad. 

His rather pedestrian 17.32 PER suggests that he’s more of a mid-level exception rather than a player worthy of a salary of $11.6 million annually.

Acquiring Batum would be a gamble for T-Wolves president David Kahn—despite the lanky wing’s favorable reputation in the league—and could seriously inhibit the T-Wolves ability to attract big name free agents in the future. 


Dominant Competition 

To be blunt, Nicolas Batum is not the type of player that is going to push Minnesota over the hump in the Western Conference.

Adding him gives them a legitimate chance of making the postseason, especially considering they were in the running for the No. 8 seed until Rubio went down.

Nevertheless, Minnesota is in a division loaded with talent.

Oklahoma City is arguably the best team out in the conference, Utah has a knack for giving other teams problems and the Nuggets always seem to field a potent squad.

If Minnesota does make the playoffs, it’s hard to imagine the T-Wolves getting out of the first round. 

Could this team with Batum take down the Thunder, Spurs, Lakers, Clippers or Grizzlies in a seven-game series? 

Probably not. 

Batum is a nice addition, but if the Wolves want to make some noise out west, they will need a player of superior talent.