ChrisHaynes, CSNNW.com NBA & Trail Blazers Insider
NicolasBatum is well aware of the expectations placed upon him after hesigned that four-year lucrative offer sheet from the MinnesotaTimberwolves this past offseason only to be matched by the PortlandTrail Blazers.
Thiswas the same path Eric Gordon took when he signed the Phoenix Sunsoffer sheet of four-years, 58 million back in July. It waseventually matched by the New Orleans Hornets. The difference betweenhim and Batum, is that Gordon got his deal off of past performanceswhile Batum's deal is mainly off of potential.
Nowit will be on Batum to make sure he earns his new salary and this ishow he could do it.
InGordon's second year in the league while a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, he averaged 16.9 points per gameand the following season, it jumped to 22.3 points per game and 20.6points the year after.
Thatgiant leap from Gordon's second year to his third year, is similar towhat Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey is hoping to get outof Batum this year under new head coach Terry Stotts.
I'mhoping that's the kind of jump Nic makes, Olshey said. LikeEric Gordon who was 16 points a game, 16 a game when he played forVinny Del Negro and before he broke his arm, he was averaging 24and a half a game during the 2010-11 season and was fifth in theleague.
Now,I'm not putting a number on Nic, but if Nic can make a jump, if WesMatthews can make a jump, if L.A. LaMarcus Aldridge can just beL.A., and Damian Lillard can be who we think he has the ability tobe, we're not that far away. And having a lottery pick potentially,and three second round picks, and having 13 million in roompotentially, is a pretty good position to be in eight months fromnow.
Ishowed Batum Gordon's career stats and I pointed out that five-pointscoring boost Olshey was referring to and he scoped it out for awhile and took a moment to think before responding.
IfI get like 15 shots a game, if I can reach my goal of 50, 40, 90, ifI can average those numbers, I can't be very far from 18 to 20points a game, Batum said.
The50, 40, 90 stands for 50 percent from the field, 40 percent fromthree-point range, and 90 percent from the charity stripe.
Batumhas shown flashes of being a player capable of averaging close to 20points a game. Monday, in preseason play against the Utah Jazz, Batumwas the main scoring option with Aldridge resting and he poured in 27points in a plethora of ways: He was showing his new face-up postgame, he was coming off singles and doubles for the three-point look,and finishing in transition.
However,for someone who has never averaged over 13.9 points per game, to allof a sudden get to 20, could be a daunting task to accomplish andmight be too much pressure to live up to.
Batumsays he feels no pressure and says he's excited that his GM has thatmuch confidence in his abilities.
Itfeels good because since day one when he got hired, everything he hassaid about me has been good, Batum said. He trusts me and hebelieves in me, so if he says that, that means he believes I can dothat. He's been in this league for a long time and he has saw so manyguys in this league, so if he thinks I can do it, then maybe I can doit.
Iquickly asked Batum if he thinks he can do it.