Originally written on Oregon Sports News  |  Last updated 11/14/14
2c
A lot of attention has been paid in the Portland media recently to Nicolas Batum’s aching right wrist. The focus has been on his lack of shot attempts — over the first 44 games of the season he averaged 16.2 points per game on 12.7 shots per game; in his four games since injuring the wrist, he’s averaging 7.5 points on 6.5 shots a night. Basically half the production on half the attempts. Despite the injury, Batum is still playing the big minutes he’s played all season long. He’s averaged nearly 39 minutes per game this season and that hasn’t changed. In the last four games, he’s “nursed” his wrist by logging 38 minutes, 38 minutes, 35 minutes and 40 minutes. The reason coach Terry Stotts has kept him on the floor is because Batum is such a complete player. He is still doling out the assists, still hauling in the rebounds, still disrupting opposing offenses with his versatility on defense. But because it pains Batum so much to shoot, he has lost a key weapon in his arsenal. Now, instead of being an all-around threat who can launch 3s, get to the bucket and generally do it all on offense, he’s forced into a poor man’s version of Rajon Rondo — a facilitator who can’t shoot. Only Rondo (when he was healthy, of course) is a much more effective playmaker than Batum will ever be. If the Blazers hope to be a playoff team, they can’t have a player of Batum’s caliber on the floor waving a white flag every time he gets the ball beyond the 3-point line. In Wednesday night’s game against Dallas, Batum passed up several wide-open 3s because he can’t bear the pain of shooting them. Because this is a new phenomenon, when defenders scrambled to defend the shot, Batum put the ball on the floor, got by them and found the open man. If he continues to eschew open jumpers, defenders won’t need to close out on him aggressively. That will take away his ability to get past them and create open looks for his teammates. In short, it will make him a much weaker threat on the offensive end of the floor. That begs the question: Are the Blazers a better team with a hampered Batum on the floor or with a healthy Victor Claver or Luke Babbitt starting in his place? I would like to answer my own question with a question of my own: Is it worth risking a serious injury to a franchise building block to fight tooth-and-nail for the 8 seed in the Western Conference? The answer to that, of course, is a resounding “No.” The best course of action for the Blazers going forward is to rest Batum. Allowing him to take a couple weeks off to rest his wrist is the right move for Portland. If the Blazers struggle to a bunch of losses with Batum watching in a French tailored suit, that isn’t the worst thing in the world. It would keep one of their three best players from risking further damage to his wrist while simultaneously removing an ineffective offensive player from the lineup. Putting his underperforming offense behind the bench weakens the team on defense, where Batum has not fallen off whatsoever with the injury. At the same time, it could provide an opportunity for Babbitt to improve his game and become more than just a 3-point shooter. That could go a long way toward determining if the Blazers keep him long-term. Also – and perhaps more importantly – it helps Portland prepare for the future. This year’s Blazers team will under no circumstances win a playoff series. Entering the offseason with an All-Star, two future All-Stars in Batum and Damian Lillard, and a lottery pick is a better option than finishing the season with a banged-up Batum and a battered ego from getting swept in the first round. Kyle Boggs is on Twitter. Follow him at @KyleKBoggs
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Ray Rice reportedly wins appeal

Ohio governor decrees playoff committee honorary Ohioans

Lance Stephenson becoming a problem with the Hornets?

Tony Romo: I promise I'll be better next week

Seahawks could wait to address Russell Wilson's contract

Report: SMU football to hire Clemson offensive coordinator

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Dez Bryant: Eagles were ‘kinda cheap’

Hockey goalie rushes into stands to perform CPR on fan

49ers CEO Jed York apologizes for unacceptable performance

Family searching for missing Ohio State football player

CM Punk opens up about leaving WWE, says he'll never return

Manny Pacquiao responds to Floyd Mayweather diss

Why is there a red seat hanging in the Mall of America?

WATCH: Mickey Rourke TKO’d a man half his age in Moscow

What's next for the 49ers?

The most tone-deaf tweet ever?

Five bold predictions for Week 13 in the NFL

Brady Quinn pens 'note' to Jets quarterback Geno Smith

Bills center Eric Wood gained 7.4 pounds at Thanksgiving

Cubs reliever somehow OK after being involved in awful accident

Seahawks players throw shade at 49ers after victory

Five takeaways from NFL's Thanksgiving Day action

Things to be thankful for in the NBA this season

Eric Berry sends out Thanksgiving message

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.

Dez Bryant: Eagles were ‘kinda cheap’

Ray Rice reportedly wins appeal

What's next for the 49ers?

The most tone-deaf tweet ever?

Is Lance a problem for the Hornets?

5 NFL takeaways from Thanksgiving

WATCH: Ronda Rousey talks Eminem

CM Punk opens up about leaving WWE

Wrigley renovation may be delayed

Steelers could have been America's Team

John Beilein upset with ESPN

Should Washington move on from RG3?

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.