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My Favorite Blazer

November 29, 2007. That was the date I first heard of my favorite current blazer. I was discussing the upcoming draft with a friend of mine. These were his exact words: "Right now I'm hoping that the Blazers draft Nicolas Batum from France." I was shocked. I had never heard of this french kid. I wanted the Blazers to take a college player ready to play in the league, not another overseas prospect who might not come over to play for years. One of the greatest Blazer what ifs is, of course, the Sabonis question. What if Sabonis had come over when he was still in his prime when he was drafted by the Blazers in 1986? Instead he stayed in the Soviet Union until finally coming to the NBA in 1995. Would the Blazers have won those championships with Sabonis starting or backing up Duckworth? Imagine Sabas throwing lobs to Clyde and Jerome. This question has made longtime Blazer fans like me spend way to much time thinking about what could have been.

In the 2008 draft the Blazers ended up getting Jerryd "hard off the back rim" Bayless after a trade with the Pacers. Like most fans, I overlooked the deal they made with Houston to get Batum, who was taken 25th. We now know that the Blazer front office loved Batum and would have basically done anything to get him in the draft. The fans assumed that he would lounge on the bench and take notes on a clipboard during his first season. This couldn't have been less true. He turned into a starter and could have been the MVP of the team. We saw how the season started this year with Batum hurt. Mike Rice kept saying that the most significant injury this season was Batum not starting the year. And you know what, he might actually be right.

The thing I love most about Batum is that he understands how to play. That sounds simple doesn't it? These guys play basketball for a living, shouldn't they know how to play? We have all played a pickup game where there are always different types of players in the game. To name a few: the guy who doesn't pass, the guy who thinks he is way better than he actually is, the guy who complains about fouls every play, the sweaty guy, and the guy that "gets it". The guy who "gets it" is usually the best player on the floor. He knows all the fundamentals and totally understand how to play. Even though he could score whenever he wants, he understands that he should set up his teammates and play a team game. These players will do whatever it takes to win. They will guard the other team's best player because they love the challenge of shutting him down, they will crash the boards with force every miss, they will continue to run the pick and roll even though the roller has bricks for hands. This player reminds me of Batum. He might be the best all-around player on the team. He is shooting a ridiculous percentage this year from the field. He is the one guarding Kobe and Lebron all game. He understands when the team needs him to expend most of his energy on defense and sacrifice his offense for a game. And the best part about all of this? Batum is only 21. Think about how much better he is going to get. This is something positive to think about Blazer fans. Block out the injury woes and think about the future of Batum.

When talking about the Blazers with other serious fans, Batum always comes up. Casual fans love Roy and nobody else. To them, Roy could play an entire team by himself and still dominate. But the real Blazer fans understand the mystique and potential of Batum. They wonder why Martell is getting some of Batum's minutes. They admire how well he plays the game. These fans understand the game of basketball and they understand what Batum brings to the table. Batum is my favorite Blazer and he is slowly becoming as popular in Portland as Brandon Roy. Lets all hope that he is here for the long run.

Owen Reutlinger

11 comments:

  1. Love your postings. Always learn something I didn't know before plus I like your upbeat perspective. Too many downers out there!

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  2. Great article, I always wondered what happened to Batum.

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  3. Best all-around player on the team? MVP last year? Come on now, put the kool-aid down for a second and lets be realistic. Batum wasnt even considered seriously for Rookie of the Year while Brandon Roy was on the All-Star Team! I agree that Batum is a great young player and at only 21 his potential is through the roof but there is a reason the Blazers were able to tread water above .500 while Nic was out but struggled when Brandon was out. I love Nic as much as the next guy but lets be realistic. Without Nic we still make the playoffs, without Brandon we don't even sniff the playoffs.

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  4. Yes I agree. Roy is "the man" on the Blazers. I'm saying that Batum is a better defender and all around athlete. I wasn't trying to compare them. He wasn't considered for rookie of the year because he doesn't really fill up the stat sheet like Roy does. My whole point is that he does all the little things that don't show up on the stat sheet and only true basketball fans understand. He is important to the team in so many ways he is like the mvp. And i think that if we take Nic out of his current lineup, we wont make the playoffs. We are in the 8th seed right now, and if Nic is gone everyones minutes increase. Do we really want Roy guarding Kobe all game and using extra energy? He isn't as valuable as Roy, but i would argue that he is he 2nd most valuable player on the team.

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  5. Take Nic out and we make the playoffs easily. We have a large lead on both the Hornets and Rockets, both of whom are struggling to find their identity. Roy would not guard Kobe if Nic were out, that duty would fall onto Martell. Lets not forget that while Nic was out Martell lead the NBA in 3's for the month of Janurary. I do not contest that Nic's ceiling is probably higher than anyone on the team other than Roy but let's not get ahead of where Nic is now. Nic is a good defender, not great, who has a good offensive game, not great. 2nd most valuable player on the team? No way! Without Nic we were above .500 and in the playoff hunt. As much as Blazer fans love to hate Lamarcus for being soft and Andre for not having an outside shot, both are way more valuable to the team. By proclaiming Nic as the 2nd most valuable Blazer you are only confirming your identity as a Blazer "snob". Put potential aside for one minute and look at reality: Nic is the flavor of the month for Blazer fans. Does he have the potential to be an all-star? Yes. Does he have the potential to be Tayshuan Prince? Yes. Does he have the potential to be neither? Yes. Lets not proclaim him something he is not until he gives us a larger body of work.

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  6. Hey Owen, stick to writing factual stories about the Blazers and not writing love stories about "your favorite blazer". there is a site for doing that: oregonlive.com/forums/blazers. Quit claiming to be a "real" Blazer fan and hating on all of the fans that make up Rip City. Even the o-livers are hating on you, check out post 644371. Quit ruining one of my favorite Blazer sites with your BS!

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  7. This was just a column about the potential of Nic and why he is my favorite player on the team. My point was that most fans overlook all the things he does. I was never hating on the real fans of Rip City. I was just suggesting that the more experienced Blazer fan really understands how important he is to the team. This was just my opinion about Nic, and i totally understand people disagreeing with it. Martell was great in January and most of Feb, but now that Batum has regained his starting spot, Martell has a hard time finding the court. When Martell is playing solid minutes and doesn't have to worry about playing time, his confidence goes way up. This helps him with his shooting. Now that he is playing different minutes each game, has failed to recapture the magic from the last few months. Martell is a good defender, but i would rather have Nic be the one guarding Kobe and Lebron. I'm open to comments anytime, even if you guys don't agree with what i'm saying. I won't just brush off negative comments about my writings like Canzano.

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  8. Well first of all, I think Derick Rose needs to stop being a baby and suck it up when he collides with "Superman 2.0" Dwight Howard - he sprains his wrist, BIG DEAL! He has another one! When Rose went down, and all these low budge players came in, they looked like Chance Newkirk during a pick up basketball game, losing control of passed balls, air balling from time to time, committing fouls that make people think "Do you even know how to play..?" Either way, I think D. Wade will end up in Chicago next season. White Sox now...they're a TOTALLY different story...Gordon Beckham looks like he's gonna be the next Chase Utley, that starting rotation manned by a dynamic duo of Jake Peavy and Mark "Mr. Perfect" Buehrle, they're goin' places this year.

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  9. Your new favorite guy put up nice numbers last night. I agree with you, Batum is for real. I hope we get to keep him for a long time.

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  10. Fuck you kevin

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