By Trace Walker
After a long history of bad draft picks and misfortune, the Hornet franchise have found a diamond in the rough in Nicolas Batum.
Summer of 2014
In 2014, Charlotte missed out on signing Gordon Hayward as the Jazz matched his contract offer. The Hornets settled with free-agent Lance Stephenson, a triple double machine for Indiana. Lance was supposed to be the superstar Charlotte never had, but in reality, Stephenson brought the team a 17% three point percentage along with over two turnovers a game.
2015 free agency
Going into the ’15 summer, there was a very hot free-agent market that included LaMarcus Aldridge, Marco Belinelli, Deandre Jordan, Greg Monroe, and Rajon Rondo. Charlotte signed Nicolas Batum on June 24 in a trade in which the Trailblazers received Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh. Batum has been the rock for the Hornet’s offense this year as he has been averaging 17 PPG, a career high. Nic has also been averaging career highs in rebounds (6.7) and assists (4.7).
Who is Nic Batum?
Batum, a frenchmen, has played seven NBA seasons, all of which were previously with the Portland Trailblazers. He also played for Le Mans, a French basketball club. Batum is a skilled scorer who can get buckets inside and out. Nicolas is also a very efficient rebounder and smart player, while getting a lot of blocks for being a guard.
If the NBA season ended today, it would be hard seeing the MVP award given to anyone not on the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors started the season on the second longest winning streak in NBA history, only falling short to the 71-72 Lakers. Steph Curry has dominated the league and is looking to win his second consecutive MVP award, others may even argue that Draymond Green has a solid case as well. Green averages more assist (7) than Curry (6), while still putting up 14 PPG, 8.7 RPG, and 1.5 BPG. The Warriors look unbeatable… (they actually are)
— ESPN (@espn) December 13, 2015
Even after losing a game to the Bucks, the Warriors are still on a higher tier than everyone else in the NBA.
Although the MVP will most likely fall into the hands of a Warrior, I argue that Nicolas Batum is also a viable option for the award. The addition of Batum alongside others has completely revamped the Hornets offense. Last year the Charlotte team made 498 three pointers the entire season. This season, the Hornets have already made 230 threes in only 23 games. That’s nearly half of what was made in the previous season. The Hornets are 14-9 and are first in the Southeast division, the team looks like a real playoff contender as they’ve tallied some impressive wins against the Bulls, Grizzlies, and Kings. Charlotte has also won in many different ways, blowing out teams, winning in OT, and making tremendous comebacks.
Nicolas Batum is the glue that has held Charlotte together this season, and has proven to be able to do it all. Last week, Batum had a triple double in the third quarter as the Hornets demolished the Heat. Batum finished the game with 10 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assist. It’s worthy to note the unselfish play of Nicolas as the last stat he reached double digits in was points.
The Hornets may not have proven their dominance in the Eastern conference quite yet, but the Charlotte team is quietly sitting at fourth in the East. Hopefully moving forward, Nic Batum can lead the Hornets to their first playoff series win. The city has long awaited the arrival of a superstar, but can Batum prove to be the savior of Charlotte basketball?
I sure hope so.