Originally posted on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 1/20/13
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!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Joe Philbin not worried about being fired

NFL deciding how to share random PSI data during season

Report: LeSean McCoy has tear in hamstring

Report: Jay Cutler expected to play hurt against Raiders

Report: Marshawn Lynch not likely to play against Lions

WATCH: Adrien Broner uses Bruce Jenner zinger after win


ESPN explains reason for Dabo Swinney interview error

Brian Kelly: Kizer made right call on 2-point play

Jim Mora calls UCLA's upcoming schedule 'a complete injustice'

Tommy Tuberville returned to Auburn, lined up at Tiger Walk

WATCH: Arizona State pushes pile 20 yards on TD run

Jim McElwain still won't name Will Grier Florida's starter

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.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Philbin not worried about job status

London PR guy trolls Suh

10 takeaways from Week 5 of the college football season

Rick Pitino and the shadows that never leave

Chad Johnson ... Steelers kicker?

Flacco deserves more from the Ravens

Time for Neymar's Barcelona

Seth Rollins, WWE depth, Divas and winning

Madison Keys and the future of women’s tennis

Most underrated games in NFL Week 4

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker