Nicolas Batum: I Deserve All-Star Berth 'Because of the Numbers That I Have'

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2014

USA Today

Nicolas Batum certainly isn't shy about showering himself with praise.

When asked if he thought he should be named to the Western Conference All-Star team, Batum took his answer one step above simply saying "Yes."

"Yes, of course," Batum told's Chris Haynes. "If they have to pick one small forward behind K.D. (Kevin Durant), I think it should be me."

Really, now? Why is that? 

Because the numbers say so, as he told Haynes:

Because of the numbers that I have and the way I play with this team. I got two triple-doubles and I should have about five or six. And we’re 31-9, maybe the best team in the West so far. I think it’ll be tough to get three All-Stars because Damian and L.A. are going to be in it. And our coach, too. But I deserve consideration.

Although his initial delivery—Durant reference—wasn't the most tactful, Batum has a point. His numbers suggest that he deserves consideration.

Batum joins LeBron James, James Harden, Lance Stephenson, Russell Westbrook, Michael Carter-Williams and Durant as the only seven NBA players averaging at least 13 points, five rebounds and five assists per game.

Three of those seven are All-Star locks—Harden, James and Durant. If Westbrook were healthy, he would fall into that category as well.

Carter-Williams' case is lukewarm, because coaches don't usually pay respects to rookies in the form of an All-Star selection. But as for Lance Stephenson, teammate Paul George believes he's right there, per USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt:

He should be close. You think about what we're doing, us being No. 1 in the East. Him being the leader in triple-doubles in the league. It goes to show how big of a part he is to our team. He should get a lot of consideration. The No. 1 team in the league should be putting in three All-Stars.


No, not Stephenson's All-Star case. Those who have fallen victim to his "'Surfin' U.S.A.' meets squatting dog meets Xena: Warrior Princess" celebration dance may spitefully disagree, but he has a strong chance of being named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

George's assertion that the league's best team deserves three All-Stars steps on the toes of what Batum said.

"If we’re in first, yes, I believe we should get three," Batum told Haynes. 

The Portland Trail Blazers are within a half-game of the Western Conference's best record, and they play home to two surefire All-Stars in Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. If the Blazers can supersede the San Antonio Spurs, do they deserve a third All-Star like the league-leading Indiana Pacers will probably get?

Better yet, does Batum deserve a selection?

Could Durant be the West's only All-Star small forward yet again?
Could Durant be the West's only All-Star small forward yet again?NBA Photos/Getty Images

Small forward is a thin position, especially out West, aided partly by the rise of stretch 4s. After Durant, there really is no clear-cut No. 2. If not Batum, then who? Rudy Gay? Kawhi Leonard? Chandler Parsons?

For All-Star purposes, we could be looking at no one.

Last year, Durant was the only small forward named to the West's All-Star team. He was joined by Tim Duncan, Zach Randolph, Blake Griffin, David Lee and Aldridge, none of whom qualify as small forwards.

With Kevin Love's video-game numbers back in the mix, we could be headed for a repeat of 2013, where bigger forwards take center stage. 

All-Star ballots and roster spots offer open-ended interpretations of positions. There are no small and power forward specifications—there are only forwards, hurting Batum's chances of earning a selection.

"I want to be there," Batum deadpanned to Haynes.

Surpass San Antonio in the standings, and he'll have a much better chance of making the trip to New Orleans than he does now.