Blazers Midseason Report: Batum Is the MVP; the Bench Is the Disappointment
The MVP: Nicolas Batum
With apologies to All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and rookie phenom Damian Lillard, no player has been more dynamic, multifaceted or important to the Trail Blazers’ success than Nicolas Batum. The fifth-year small forward has justified that $44 million contract — and then some — in a breakout season in which he ranks third on the team in scoring (16.8 points per game), second in assists (4.4), third in rebounds (5.9), second in blocks (41), first in steals (57) and first in three-pointers (98). Batum’s growth as a playmaker is remarkable, his defense remains solid and his impact on the game is felt in virtually every aspect. There’s an argument to be made that he’s the second-best small forward in the Western Conference, behind Kevin Durant, as Batum ranks third in scoring, first in assists, second in blocks, second in steals and first in three-pointers among his peers in the West.
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