Batum defending point guards all game? There are drawbacks

Batum defending point guards all game? There are drawbacks
February 5, 2014, 10:45 am
Share This Post

CJ McCollum on MSG debut

Recently there's been a lot of talk about Blazer Coach Terry Stotts' decision to use Nic Batum to defend point guards -- not just late in games but from the very start. And it's being presented in many quarters without thought to the negatives of such a move.

Now don't get me wrong, there are some nights and some teams where this makes a whole lot of sense. But long term, I can't say it's anything I would expect we're going to consistently see from the Trail Blazers. There are some drawbacks:

  1. Batum defending the point guard sets off a chain reaction that sends Damian Lillard over to check the off-guard spot, thus pushing Wesley Matthews down to defend the small forward. There are many nights when that small forward is going to be too big for Matthews to handle. Matthews works his tail off at the defensive end and is generously listed at 6-5. Small forwards these days in the NBA aren't small -- and on many nights it's going to be too big a load for Matthews.
  2. As we detailed yesterday, Batum is already logging more miles on the court than any other player in the NBA. Now you're going to ask him to chase small, quick point guards all over the floor for 36 minutes a night? Not sure that's going to be sustainable. And I think it's asking a lot of a 6-8 small forward.
  3. What sort of message is it sending to Lillard, who has worked hard on his defense and is doing his best to stay in front of the quickest players in the NBA? Long term, Lillard is going to probably have to defend his position and taking the responsibility away from him on certain nights may not be sending the right message. I think he's worked very hard at trying to accept the challenge of guarding the toughest position to defend in the NBA. I wouldn't yank him out of that until a game hangs in the balance in the fourth quarter.

I'm not saying the strategy isn't effective, based on certain situations, but I'd be very careful about using it too often. Tonight in New York, for instance, I'm not sure it's necessary to waste Batum on Ray Felton when Carmelo Anthony is out there for Batum to guard. Incidentally, what a role Batum has every night. He's got enough to worry about with the Kevin Durants of the world without thinking about guarding all the Chris Pauls and Tony Parkers.