With an inevitable, lengthy NBA lockout looming at the forefront, players have decided to pack their bags and head to an open job market. Deron Williams, as we all know, has already agreed to play in Turkey for the remainder of the lockout, but one lower profile player who has also committed to playing overseas is Portland's international talent, Nicolas Batum.
Primarily recognized for his sticky defense and his athleticism, Batum's game appealed to the international spectators. Though he only averaged 12.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season, everyone knows he's got potential through the roof and the work ethic to harness it.
"Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum has reached an agreement to play with French basketball club SLUC Nancy if the NBA lockout extends into the regular season, according to Julien Deschuyteneer of BasketSession.com."
But why is this a good thing, you ask?
One of the biggest holes in Batum's game, if you watch Trail Blazer basketball, is his ability to create his own shot. He's very diligent in his efforts not to force anything, but his ball handling and overall quickness don't allow him to create the separation he needs to get off a clean look with a defender on him.
Batum's length and athleticism allow him to guard multiple positions, specifically the point guard through power forward positions, with relative ease. He's 6'8" with an incredible 7'4" wingspan, and has the awareness on defense to keep his hands active at all times. However, a mere 12.4 points in 31.5 minutes per game off the bench simply is not enough output from the Blazers' sixth man.
That's where SLUC Nancy comes in.
When asked about his role with SLUC Nancy, Batum said,
"Me and coach Monschau have connected really well and I already knew Nancy's personnel... He told me that, like all the players he’s had before me at my position, I would have the ball a lot. I mostly played defense those last years but I'll try to bring more to the table on the offensive end and to be as versatile as possible."
Batum was never the primary ball handler or scorer for the Portland Trail Blazers. Now that he's spending a season in France, essentially as the team's go-to guy, he'll be able to bring new talents, abilities and confidence in his game back to the NBA. Watching Batum play, you see that he's got a deadly stroke from three and can finish pretty well at the basket.
Imagine how much of an asset he would be coming off the bench if he could increase his scoring totals from 12.4 to 16.5 points per game. Now that he's the head honcho of his own team, it's bound to happen.