Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/10/14
2c
No regrets here The Portland Trail Blazers had a big decision to make this past summer surrounding small forward Nicolas Batum. The Minnesota Timberwolves made him a four-year, $45 million offer, and Portland had to choose whether they wanted to risk overspending, or risk losing a great player by letting him walk. The Blazers chose to take a chance and spend the money, and Nicolas Batum is proving to be worth every cent at this point in the season. Before and After The easiest way to evaluate any given player is by looking at the numbers. Last season, Batum averaged a lackluster 13.9 points per game. He was not a consistent starter at the time, but even playing as the starting small forward, he only boosted that number up to 14.4. This season, the forward is averaging an impressive 17.1 points per contest. He has bumped himself up to third on the team in scoring, and he is a reliable shooter from almost anywhere on the floor. But a player’s success is decided by more than just scoring, and Batum has finally started to round out his game like we all hoped he would. Nicolas Batum has earned his contract. (Photo: Tony Dejak/AP) Having played on the perimeter most of his career, Batum has never been known as much of a rebounder. This season, though, he has his rebounding numbers up to nearly six per game, and he’s showing that he can assert himself down low on both ends of the floor. When it comes to being more involved in the offense, the old critique used to be that he simply stood in the corner and waited for someone to pass him the ball. Blame Nate McMillan and his offensive system if you want, but the 6’8” small forward simply didn’t play with the kind of aggression you want to see—at least on a regular basis. Now, Batum looks like an entirely different player. With the freedom to control the ball at the top, Batum is showing that he can run the pick-and-roll and that he can take control of the offense. He’s averaging an impressive 4.3 assists per game, which is among the best in the NBA for small forwards—he is second only to LeBron James. The fear with any big contract is that once a player gets his money, he’s going to stop trying. But with Batum, it’s been quite the opposite. The firing of coach McMillan took a lot of people by surprise last season, but it’s looking like that move is exactly what Batum needed to finally emerge. Terry Stotts has shown that he’s willing to give the forward a chance, and the 24-year-old appears to be taking full advantage. The Future When you give a player a big contract, you don’t pay him based on his past experience. You pay him based on his future expectations. The Blazers expected great things out of Batum, and so far, he’s heading in the right direction. Batum has been shuffled in and out of the starting lineup his entire career, but it’s safe to say that the small forward spot is his to claim as long as he remains in Rip City. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

DeMarco Murray: 'I'm not worried about the Cowboys'

Turner has great quote in defense of Bridgewater

Gary Bettman's quote about expansion makes no sense

Beltre sends Richards invoice for three broken bats

Herschel Walker: Vikings should trade Adrian Peterson

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Raiders fielding calls about fourth overall pick

WATCH: UAB football player brings helmet to graduation

Andrew Luck to students: 'I'm only 25, I don't have advice'

Mark Sanchez: Tebow is another arm while Bradford recovers

Report: Former LSU CB Jalen Collins failed multiple drug tests

Six players suspended for White Sox-Royals brawl

WATCH: Demetrious Johnson wins with last-second submission

WATCH: Jerryd Bayless beats Bulls with buzzer-beater

John Legend catches Belichick checking out Chrissy Teigen

Jim Rice to Jim Palmer: 'Quit complaining'

Time Warner-Comcast failed merger hurts Dodgers fans

WATCH: Bucks mascot devours fan

Protestors tried to have Orioles-Red Sox game called off

Greg Hardy abandons his Bentley during flash flood

WATCH: LeBron James hits full-court shot after practice

Peyton Manning announces $3 million gift to Tennessee

WATCH: Leah Still scores TD in Temple spring game

WATCH: Todd Gurley shares video of himself sprinting

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

UAB player brings helmet to graduation

Leah Still scores in Temple spring game

Sanchez shares thoughts on Tebow

Stephen A. Smith blasts Tom Brady

Kris Humphries apologizes for Jenner tweet

Five most boring NFL prime time matchups for 2015

Bruce Jenner: "For all intents and purposes, I am a woman"

Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota: Perception vs. reality

Report: Gronk dating former Patriots cheerleader

NFL exec compares Jameis Winson to JaMarcus Russell

NFL does not care about Rams' future in St. Louis

Nothing gleams like late-round draft gold

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.