Nicolas Batum may have been the most deserving player not in the All-Star game this season.
The former Portland Trail Blazer, who was traded for young big man Noah Vonleh in a blow up move by the Blazers, Nicolas Batum came to the Charlotte Hornets with a great track record of being perennially underrated. And while dragging the Hornets to around .500 with Kemba Walker breaking out (finally), Batum should have been recognized for his All-Star caliber season.
A supposedly poor last year, Batum has gotten back to stardom by scoring the ball more often. Last year his efficiency dipped, with a 51.6 True Shooting Percentage (TS%). This season, he has gotten more efficient (not near his career highs in the 60s), coming in with a 54 TS% as of todays games.
The main reason is his ability to get to the line in Charlotte. Since last season, he has doubled the amount of Free Throw Attempts (FTA) per 48 minutes from 2 to 4. Furthermore, he’s hit about 2% more of his three point attempts. Instead of just 13 points per 48, Batum has been around 20 points per 48 minutes. Below is a video of Batum showing his scoring prowess:
Another way that Batum has bounced back and turned himself back into an All-Star snub is by grabbing a great amount of rebounds for a guard. He snags nearly nine rebounds per 48 minutes, almost 4 more than other shooting guards. Take a shooting guard who did make the team, Dwyane Wade, who averages only 6.5 per 48 (a very good number), but no where near Batum’s great ability to grab rebounds amongst the giants.
Batum has been known for being overrated as a defensive player, but this season he has improved, especially while the Hornets missed their best defensive player in MKG for a long time. Batum gets steals and blocks at a solid rate for his position, and he rarely fouls opposing players. The only guards who were All-Stars with a better defensive field goal percentage according to SportVu’s technology, were Jimmy Butler and Klay Thompson, both renowned defenders. Batum definitely earned it at both ends of the floor so far this season.
Another skill that Batum has put on display this year is his incredible passing ability. While on the floor, Batum assists on just over a quarter of the field goals made by the Hornets. With that percentage, he is higher than some guards like Derrick Rose and Manu Ginobili and forwards like Kevin Durant and Paul George.
Finally, Batum has refined his shot selection over the years, so he rarely takes bad shots. Nearly 65% of his shots are within three feet or behind the three point line, meaning his midrange game isn’t the backbone of his shot selection. His corner threes have gone down (thanks to not playing with a superb point guard in Damian Lillard), but his three percentage has gone up from last year, despite being only about 31% from the corners and having less than 80% of those assisted. Clearly, he can create his own shot off the bounce and is hitting those threes from the wings and up top extremely well.
In all, there were plenty of players who were snubbed (in small part by having Kobe start), but Nicolas Batum was possibly the most qualified to be in the game for the Eastern Conference. Throughout the rest of the season I am positive he will be using that snubbing as motivation to lead the Hornets to the playoffs and look to build a great team around him to challenge the Cavaliers and Raptors in the coming seasons.
CORRECT!Your overall SQ:
Your NBA SQ:
WRONG!The answer was: Answer more NBA questions »
- Noah Vonleh
- Damian Lillard
- Kemba Walker
- Al Jefferson