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Nicolas Batum: A Major Disappointment

Nicolas Batum has really disappointed all of the fantasy owners that used high picks in their fantasy draft on him, but what are the chances he rebounds from this bad first third of the season.

Nicolas Batum goes up for a shot over JaKarr Sampson of the 76ers
Nicolas Batum goes up for a shot over JaKarr Sampson of the 76ers
Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Many people had high hopes for Portland Trailblazer Nicolas Batum this season. Last season, he was the Swiss army knife of fantasy basketball, with averages of 13 points, five assists, seven and a half rebounds, and almost two threes a game, with the occasional double-double, while being one of the most efficient players in the game, with a .589 true shooting percentage. All of these factors led to an ADP of 26 in ESPN leagues during draft season, but he's been a major let down. Batum isn't even averaging ten points a game, is averaging only five and a half rebounds, and hasn't had a single double-double all season.

The main problem this season for Nicolas Batum has been his shooting,, which has been bad due to a wrist injury that has been lingering, due to a choice not to get surgery. His true shooting percentage has gone down almost 10%, to .493, and his three point percentage, which dropped 10.5% from last season (which is coincidentally the same as his career average) to this one, despite a two percent increase in three point attempt rate (percent of field goal attempts from three point range).

So Nic is still getting the attempts needed to get his rhythm, (he's shooting the same number of threes per 36 as last year), but is he getting the open looks. Yes. He's shooting fewer wide open looks (defender is six feet away or farther), but it isn't enough fewer to make a difference, as the difference is less then .2% of his threes. Not only is he getting the same amount of wide open threes, but his percentage of threes that are open (3-5 feet) has actually gone up, though not enough to have an impact, just .4%. So he's still getting open looks, but he's just missing them, that seems to indicate that he can get back to his career averages once his wrist fully heals, further shown by the 5% difference in his December and November three point percentages.

Another problem with his scoring has been a much lower free throw rate then normal. Free throws, corner threes, and layups are the three easiest ways to score baskets in the NBA, and Batum is doing a lot less of all three of those. Since I've already talked about three point shooting, I'll focus on free throws and layups. Free throws are usually drawn when driving, and layups are also usually made while driving. Batum is averaging .2 less drives per game this year, which isn't significant, but what is significant is the drop in his FG% while driving, which has gone down over 17% between this season and last, which has accounted for a drop of half a point a game. Finishing at the rim requires a delicate touch, which is tough to do when dealing with a hurt wrist. Regarding the drop in free throw attempts, I haven't watched enough Blazers games to know this for sure, but it's possible that Batum has been avoiding contact because of the injury, and that's why he's attempting less free throws.

I'm far from an expert on wrists, and even if I was, I've never been close enough to Batum to analyze his wrist (though I would much enjoy the ability to do that), so I can't tell you how the healing process is going, and how long until he's at full strength, but I do know that wrists are very important in basketball, and these stats show that he's been almost the exact same player as he was last season. Batum hasn't been able to make his shots, but his shot making should come back as his wrist heals. One thing that won't return to the same level is the rebounds, which are actually above his career averages, so last year was probably the exception, but his rebound percentage is the lowest of his career, so they will likely increase, just not to the same level as last year. If the team that owns him in your league wants to really sell low on him, why not, he's a great player, but it's kind of dangerous to gamble on a wrist injury, If you own him, I wouldn't actively shop him, but if you get a good offer, I'd accept it.

All stats in this article from either, or the wonderful