Clippers Guard Gushes Over Veteran Big: ‘There’s Nothing He Can’t Do’

Nicolas Batum Clippers

Getty LA Clippers big man Nicolas Batum reacts after a Reggie Jackson three-pointer during a game against the Charlotte Hornets.

After a rough start to their 2021-22 campaign — amid numerous injuries to key players — the LA Clippers are suddenly rolling. Since losing in blowout fashion to the Trail Blazers in Portland on October 29, the Clippers have reeled off five straight victories to push their record to a respectable 6-4 on the year.

Over that time frame, Los Angeles has boasted the NBA‘s fifth-best offense (with an O-rating of 111.9) and its third-best defense (D-rating 101.0). Meanwhile, the team’s 15.2 three-point makes per contest over the same stretch rank No. 2 league-wide.

Clearly, Paul George deserves a lot of the credit for keeping his team afloat while Kawhi Leonard and others are on the mend. However, he’s not the only Clipper vet balling out this season.

For his part, Nicolas Batum has quietly been a steadying force for the club. And while his play hasn’t exactly lit up the presses, one of his teammates — combo guard Reggie Jackson — can’t say enough good things about what Batum has brought to the table in 2021-22.

Jackson Has a Lot of Love for Batum

In the wake of the Clippers’ 117-109 win over the Blazers on November 9, Jackson was asked about Batum, who had just put up 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting (with six threes) in the game. At the very mention of Batum’s name, Jackson stopped the reporter in their tracks and said, “Amazing. I don’t even know what you’re asking — dude’s amazing.”

He then launched into a stirring soliloquy on Batum’s unflappable nature and what the Frenchman meant to him coming up.

“The only time Nico is mad is when we’re not doing our job,” Jackson said. “And, particularly, defensively, but — I ain’t gonna lie — for myself, I grew up having Portland as my second-favorite team, so I got to watch Nico, like… a lot, young. I’ve always admired his game, I’ve always been in love with his demeanor, the way he plays, the way he carries himself.”

Jackson continued to sing Batum’s praises:

“He already plays amazing defense, like, dude’s gonna pick up 94 feet. Like, he’s crazy,” Jackson said. “Dude’s played the most minutes for his last year. I think he played the most minutes in the Olympics. Came back — he’s picking up full-court.

“Best offensive player, night in and night out, doesn’t complain… Like, I don’t know how you could be a better dude, or a better teammate. Anything we need from him, defensively, offensively. We need him to play center last year, we need him to play center this year at times. Like, there’s nothing he can’t do — run the point for us, score, shoot it, make big shots, big-time defensive plays. When you’ve got a guy like that in the trenches with you, you’re blessed.”

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Back From the Scrap Heap

It’s difficult to picture now, but just two short years ago, it appeared as though Batum’s time in the Association could be nearing its end. During the pandemic-shorted 2019-20 campaign, he averaged just 3.6 points per game on 34.6% shooting over 22 games with the Charlotte Hornets.

Sure, he had been injured, but even before that came into play, there were some who wondered whether he was worth the paycheck he was getting.

Fast-forward to now and — less than a calendar year after he was waived by the Hornets — he looks to be well on his way toward another impressive season with the Clippers. Through nine appearances, Batum is averaging 12.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per contest. Additionally, his effective field goal percentage of 70.7 is on pace to be a new career-high.

The Clippers have been 10.5 points per 100 possessions better overall with Batum on the floor in ’21-22 compared to when he sits.


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