The Los Angeles Lakers were lacking in the wing position last season. They were able to draft Duke’s Brandon Ingram and are now being linked to Nicolas Batum. Batum is entering his ninth year in the league and is a veteran who can improve every aspect of the Lakers.
Nicolas Batum was a valuable part of the Hornets’ rotation. Averaging 14.9 points, 5.8 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game, Batum was also one of four forwards in the NBA to average at least 14 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists in 2015-16.
His all-around ability is solid but his ability to pass is elite for any forward. Out of all forwards, Batum finds himself in the top five in many passing statistics such as assists, secondary assists, free throw assists and potential assists.
His ability to split defenders with the bounce pass off of the pick and roll is extremely strong and Batum is capable of dumping off to the big-man. Batum has also showed proficiency with being able to think and react quickly off of dribble handoffs. This should work well with Larry Nance, Jr. and rookie Ivica Zubac, both bigs who are able to handle passes in most situations, specifically the pick and roll.
Batum is also just a smart basketball player. He is quick to react and can generally read defenders well enough to make the right pass, even if it’s only to make an extra pass. 11.8 percent of his passes end up being assists.
Batum is also still a good shooter from behind the arc. He shot 34.8 percent from three last season, slightly below his career mark of 36 percent but he did shoot 36.5 percent on catch-and-shoot opportunities. His ability to work off of screens and get a shot up quickly would work well with Walton’s system while Batum and Ingram could open up some interesting wrinkles to play with.
Beyond that, Batum is a solid rebounder and can get some points in the mid-range. His defense is pretty good and will provide variety if he pairs up alongside the versatile Ingram. It would also be interesting to see how good Los Angeles can get defensively if they can pair Batum with Whiteside.
Nicolas Batum is a great fit for the Los Angeles lineup and will be an upgrade in every aspect of the game. The defensive and offensive potential that he and Ingram can bring as a duo can only go up as Ingram gets adjusted to basketball in the Association.
Nicolas Batum will get the max from someone. He is well deserving of the max from the Lakers, even if they also offer one to a player like Hassan Whiteside.