Welcome to Lakers Linkedin, our new free agency preview series (inspired by our friends over at Liberty Ballers' own "Sixers Tinder") where we look at the "resumes" of various free agents, and determine whether or not we think the Lakers' should hire them. Today, we examine whether or not the Lakers should try and add one of the class' top wings in Nicolas Batum.
Nicolas Batum's Resume
-6-8, 200 lbs, SG/SF
-FIBA Europe U-18 MVP
-Two-time French League Rising Star Award
-FIBA World Cup Bronze Medal
-EuroBasket Gold Medal
Nicolas Batum played for two seasons in France before coming to the NBA. He was considered one of the more talented players in Europe and was twice giving the Rising Star Award for his improvements in play. Batum was drafted 25th overall in 2008 and traded to Portland.
The French swingman was a solid contributor for the Blazers by his third year. Batum averaged 12.4 points per game and shot 35 percent from behind the arc that year. He improved on those totals the following season, scoring 13.9 points per game and shooting 39 percent from deep. Batum also became known for his defensive ability on the wing.
In 2013-14, Batum has his best season in the NBA. He became a more complete player, averaging 13 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game while also becoming a lockdown defender. He also shot 47 percent from the field and 36 percent from deep. In the postseason, Batum averaged 15.2 points per game and helped the Blazers win a playoff series for the first time since the 1999 season.
However, Batum regressed drastically from his stellar 2014 season and eventually the Blazers hit reset, trading him to the Charlotte Hornets last summer.
Batum regained his form in Charlotte with a career-high 14.9 points per game. His shooting percentage wasn’t nearly back to its previous level at 43 percent, but his three-point percentage was still strong at 35 percent. Batum also posted a career-high 5.8 assists per game. He had an insane March, averaging 18.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game while shooting 47 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep.
With the rising cap, it’s hard to judge Batum’s value. He’s a versatile player on the wing that will contribute in all facets of the game on both ends of the court. His shooting is down from what is once was and that might return, but inconsistent play in Charlotte may have hurt his stock. At 27, Batum will have a veteran presence on this Lakers squad while still being able to contribute at high levels for the considerable future. This is an intangible that plays in Batum’s favor.
The Lakers should pursue Batum hard in free agency. He can play at either the shooting guard or small forward spot and would be a key cog in any small-ball lineups. His perimeter defense would also be a huge asset and his passing and rebounding abilities for his position are key. The shooting is a little questionable, but Batum’s overall game makes up for this small blip. The Lakers might not want to offer a maximum contract, but somewhere in the $16-18 million range would be a steal. Even at a max contract, Batum would be well worth the money.
Should the Lakers hire him? 100% yes.