We knew him in distress in Charlotte, relegated to the end of the bench then returned to a role of assistant coach paid as a franchise player. There had been the injuries, obviously, the age which is growing day by day, no kidding, and the status of Nicolas Batum with the Hornets questioned, as well as the rest of his NBA career, obviously. Then there was the rebound, an exit voucher offered by MJ, the display of his salary over several years and therefore this signing as a free player with… the Clippers, in the midst of the All-Stars and Hollywood stars. In retrospect? What a good idea.
What a good idea, because if at the announcement of the signing the Franco-French nicknames alluding to its value for money in Charlotte give way to a reputation as a ring chaser, Nicolas Batum will quickly show that he is not came there to sweep the backyard of the jewelry store. The first surprise? Nico is… titular, alongside Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, used as post 4 and as captain of a defense which nevertheless has a few specialists. A discreet opener against his new neighbors in LA and 13 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists two days later, it’s official Nico has found the joy of playing basketball and it’s a whole franchise that rubs his hands. The new role of Tyronn Lue n ° 33? Defend the iron, play the spiritual guides in a roster yet complicated on paper (Kawhi will say in particular of him that he is the player the most listened to in the locker room), and incidentally to do everything and rather very well, on both sides of the field. Little icing on the Batum, Nico has also become one of the chief fireworks of the Clippers, transforming a good part of his outdoor attempts into a well-salty bucket, with in the end a percentage of the parking lot (40.4%) which speaks volumes. on its efficiency and what is more on an interesting volume.
Long holder therefore, imperturbable, and no more embarrassed when T-Lue asks him to leave the bench on the return of Marcus Morris. Nico keeps his contribution but this time increases the level of the second unit, turbining between 25 and 30 minutes per game, every evening. Strangely, we no longer talk about money, we no longer talk about lack of motivation, we no longer talk about the Norman-style robbery. The Clippers advance without difficulty with their veteran Gaul until the Playoffs, the Playoffs during which Nico will once again get in tune with his team, a team which will fail at the gates of the NBA Finals after falling, without Kawhi Leonard, the weapons in hand against former franchise boss Chris Paul. A postseason of 10 points and 6 rebounds on average but the FDC ended completely roasted, you have to understand eh, and a successful overall exercise, very successful, with averages so Batum 8.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1 steal and 0.6 against but, above all, this regained status of guy that any franchise would dream of having in its roster. And that, after crossing the desert in 2020, you had to see it coming, and he himself is also aware of it:
“Last November, if someone had told me that I would still be playing basketball at the end of June, that I would play for something big by being ON the court, I wouldn’t have believed it. I was not very well mentally and when I see where I am now, it’s amazing. I can’t thank the Clippers franchise enough for giving me a chance to be a basketball player again.
“It was a special year. I still find it hard to believe it to be honest. […] I surprised myself a bit. When you start to listen to all the outside noises, you start to wonder if you are really finished. Coming back, playing well and being on a team that is playing something, I was a little surprised, I was like, ‘maybe I’m not that bad actually, I’m not done. ‘. Maybe people were wrong about me, and maybe I was wrong about myself. “
Result of the races? A summer… which will only be more beautiful. In the NBA first since after being dredged by about forty-two franchises Nico will finally re-sign for two years with the Clippers, then in Tokyo of course, where this great moron will then enter the great History of France by including a masterclass in the quarter-finals against Italy and, above all, this monumental performance halfway against Slovenia, symbolized by the most clutch cons of his life and all of basketball France at the same time. Logical “reward” for a season of redemption, logical reward for a guy who has not been what we said about him for a year, reward for a guy who deserves everything that happens to him and who therefore has none not finished with the NBA far from it.
This is also the NBA, this is also sport. Fates with tortuous paths, made of downs to bounce back better. Go back to jump better, hibernate a few months to come back always hungrier but in the end, only the legends are doing so well, perhaps because Nicolas Batum is one, a damn legend of French basketball.
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Nicolas Batum, the pleasant comeback: a slump and Nico has become Batman again, so ask Klemen Prepelic what he thinks about it