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Nicolas Batum: The French Phenom

By 06.10.08
IMAGE DESCRIPTIONNicolas Batum (photo. Matt Costa)

The sight of the 6-8 French wing Nicolas Batum might actually make Jay Bilas‘ head explode: with a 7-4 wingspan, he’s probably the longest prospect in this year’s draft.

In all likeliness the 6-9 Italian forward Danilo Gallinari will come off the board before Batum, but the Frenchman has unreal potential, which is the reason that he’s going to fall somewhere between the Knicks at No. 6 and the Raptors at No. 17 according to his agent.

While Batum has been criticized at points during his Euroleague season for not asserting himself, it’s tough to argue with someone whose physical tools are this impressive. His skill set is reminiscent of Rudy Gay‘s at Connecticut without the jaw-dropping athleticism. He’s better at pulling up for a mid-range jumper than spotting up for three. And even though he disappeared at times during the 40-minute five-on-five run, he wowed some onlookers when he caught one dude real bad on a transition dunk.

Ultimately, scouting Batum isn’t about what you see him do, it’s about what you can imagine him doing. He and fellow Frenchman Edwin Jackson were bombing away from close to 30-feet when the camp broke for lunch. Even though they only made close to 30% of their shots, Batum’s jumper was so effortless. Could he develop a Kevin Durant-esque jumper from way out? Possibly, but he doesn’t have it yet.

Much more is unknown with Batum than with Gallinari. “Gallo” has proved to be a leader and a versatile player who can score from basically everywhere on the floor. Eurocamp director Pete Philo, who is the man on the international scene, said Gallinari is a combination of Dirk, Lamar Odom and Toni Kukoc.

That sounds like a perennial contributor in the League – but not necessarily an All-Star. Batum, on the other hand, could become something really special as he grows up.

If you’re a GM, what’s your move – the guy who is likely to be a steady contributor for the next 10-12 years (Gallinari), or someone who could put butts in seats but might never realize his full potential? (Batum)


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