Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum says he believes he should be considered for the 2013 NBA All-Star team.
In an expanded role this seasons, the fifth year 6-8 small forward is having a career-year in all major categories: points (16.9), rebounds (5.7), assist (4.4), steals (1.5), and blocks (1.1).
“I should be in consideration for the All-Star team,” Batum told CSNNW.com. “I have improved a lot from last year. I'm not the same player I once was. And with all the small forwards in the Western Conference, I think I deserve to be mentioned. Maybe I make it this year, but in the next four years, I have to be in the All-Star game.”
Last year, Oklahoma's Kevin Durant was the only small forward on the the Western Conference roster. The coaches aren't under any guidelines to insure there are a couple of players at each position on the roster. If that was the case, Batum would have a better shot.
Let's say there will be one small forward selected as a reserve, Memphis' Rudy Gay and Batum are arguably the two best small forwards in the Western Conference behind Durant.
Gay is averaging more points than Batum with 17.9 a game and they both average the same amount of rebounds. Besides those stats, Batum is above him in all other major statistics.
“The thing is, coaches don't vote for small forwards, they vote for frontcourt and backcourt players,” Trail Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts said. “That provides the coaches some flexibility in who they vote for. If they have seven votes and if they vote for three frontcourt, three backcourt and a wildcard, then that gives the coaches flexibility to name who they want to name.”
However, we must keep in mind that if Batum is voted on as a reserve, that would mean Portland would have two players in Houston.
Can that be?
“I think you can certainly consider Nic, L.A., and Damian [Lillard] as All-Star possibilities,” Stotts said. “I think L.A. is our All-Star and that's a given and for a team to get two is possible provided that you're on a winning team. The fact that we're over .500, you certainly can make a case that we could have more than one All-Star this year.”
LaMarcus Aldridge had jokes.
“I think you can make a case for two guys getting in on our team, but we're not even sure we're going to get one in,” Aldridge said while laughing. “I'm serious,” he said with a smile.”
Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, and Dwight Howard are expected to be the starters representing the West. Then virtual locks to be voted in by the coaches are Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Tim Duncan, Marc Gasol, and Aldridge. That leaves two spots open for Tony Parker, Stephen Curry, David Lee, Serge Ibaka, Zach Randolph, Jamal Crawford, Gay or Batum.
Batum realizes he's fighting an uphill battle in regards to making the team this season. Thankfully his best friend in San Antonio has been giving him some words of encouragement on how to handle his first breakout year.
“Tony [Parker] told me the first year when you start playing good and people start looking at you and saying, 'Why not?,' that means next year you have a better chance of making it,” Batum said. “That's kind of what's going on now, but it's still a goal of mine to make the team this year.”