MINNEAPOLIS It's in part thanks to the Timberwolves that Nicolas Batum got his four-year, 45 million deal this offseason, a contract that many assumed to be more than what the small forward was worth.
It was the result of a bidding war between the Timberwolves and Trail Blazers, and Portland eventually won, matching Minnesota's offer for the restricted free agent. Since signing, Batum has improved his statistics across the board from last season, and he's posting the best numbers of his five-year career.
"A little bit, yeah," Batum said when asked if he was surprising himself with his play. "I knew I could do it, but not at this point. When I fix a goal to be a 15-5-5 (guy) this year, people laugh at me. But now I reach this goal right now."
His 15.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game this season are all career highs; in fact, Batum has never finished a season averaging more than 1.5 assists, making that jump perhaps the most noticeable. He's playing up to his contract, ...