I hadn’t thought about it before, but this is Nicolas Batum’s first full season as a starter for the Blazers. Though he technically started nearly every game his rookie season, he only played 18.4 minutes per game and shared a lot of time with Rudy Fernandez and Travis Outlaw. Outlaw…shudder.
I wrote about how he had improved greatly toward the end of last season, and how he’d maintained his efficiency even after becoming a starter. Now it’s time to see if that improvement stuck.
I think we can say decidedly that it stuck. The 2011-2012 season shows only the 34 games that Batum started. This year, his minutes have increased even more than when he because a starter last season, and he is using an additional possession to himself each game (Usage). It is obvious that Batum is being asked to create more, as his assists have skyrocketed to 4.9 per game and his turnovers to 2.8. Despite the increased workload, his assist-to-turnover ratio has nearly doubled, his TS% is up a bit, and he hasn’t lost anything noticeable on his rebounds and blocks per 36 minutes.
For reference, Batum’s 57.2% true shooting percentage puts him right behind the likes of Dwayne Wade and O.J. Mayo, and just ahead of one Dwight Howard. Sure Howard is having a down year, but, shit, all the guy does is dunk. Basically, Batum has assumed a larger role in the offense than ever before, and he is giving Portland some of the most efficient play of his career.
Who next? Aldridge? Hickson? Matthews?