The Portland Trail Blazers are in the midst of a roller coaster of a season. They have Rookie of the Year candidate Damian Lillard lighting up the scoreboard and stat sheets. LaMarcus Aldridge has turned in to the nightly double-double threat everyone dreamed he would become. Add “Windex Man” JJ Hickson to the mix, and the Blazers are few role/bench players away from having a legitimate playoff team on their hands.
Were you thinking someone was left out of that list? That a certain player, playing well above what we have seen before, should have been mentioned?
Alright, I will mention him. Nicolas Batum. And he should be warming the bench, indefinitely.
Batum, who is enjoying a career year while averaging 15 points, 6 boards, and 5 assists per game, shouldn't even be permitted to dress for games. He should be sitting there, looking disinterested, in a suit and tie, resting his chin on his left hand, and not playing.
And why is that, you may ask?
The answer is simple. Batum should be spending games in a suit because the team, the fans, and the livelihood of this franchise, have Batum's right hand wrapped up in a four-year, forty-four-million dollar contract. That right hand should be wrapped in ice and bubble wrap, if not encased in glass for the time being.
Batum's wrist is hurt. It's not broken, it's not necessarily sprained, but something is off, and the time has come for the team to see and act on what matters most.
The Blazers should cut their losses, understand that this year is not the year, and make sure that they take care of their long-term interests, which is to ensure Batum does not further injure the wrist his shooting hand is attached to, and extremely dependent on, as is the rest of the team and every single Blazer fan around. Batum should be allowed to heal up, and be made to understand that as much as this city and the team loves him and his play, they would also like to see it for the next three years and beyond.
Batum's shooting stroke is clearly off. And it's not just the shooting, either. Basketball fundamentals call for two hands to be used for almost any drill. Passing, catching, shooting, defense, etc. Honestly, not using both hands in basketball (aside from dribbling the basketball) is considered incorrect, or at the very least, bad form. And how can one do any of those things when their dominant wrist is not correct? Anyone of us that have played basketball with a sore or strained wrist understand how difficult it is to keep going. Your wrist and hand tighten, they get sore, and stiffness and sharp pain take over, and then ice and rest are the best friends you can have. Yet Batum and further the team is not making him take at least a few nights off to actually see and visit those friends.
Batum needs a new, revised, short-term schedule, and he needs it in the worst way. No practice, no shoot-around, no warm up shots, no playing time during the game.
Look, it's for the best and it needs to happen. We're not looking at losing a star player for 6-8 weeks here, or even up to the rest of the season, which is what the Cavilers, Lakers, Magic, and Timerbwolves are facing. We're talking a few games. Long enough for Batum's wrist to genuinely heal, and to see Batum get back to 100%, play with the energy and confidence we are used to, and see the Rose Garden crowd throw up “three-goggles”, cheer a great defensive block or steal, and hear the “boom boom Batum” resonate throughout the arena.
Let the man get some rest. Just 100%, all-natural, well needed, rest.
His wrist, the fans, as well as the team's and his own futures, will thank him.
Doctor's orders, Nic. Get some more time to rest, and some time off of the wrist.