- The Charlotte Hornets waived Nicolas Batum on Monday.
- Per reports, Batum will sign with the L.A. Clippers once he clears the waivers.
- Batum played in only 22 games last season and averaged a career-low 3.6 points per game.
Nicolas Batum found himself without a team after the Charlotte Hornets waved him on Monday to facilitate the sign and trade agreement that the team forged with the Boston Celtics.
The Hornets needed to shed salary in order to make room for Gordon Hayward’s four-year $120M contract and there were no trade takers for Batum who fell from grace with the team last season. So Charlotte ended up waiving the Frenchman and stretching his $27M salary over three years to pave way for Hayward.
But even before Batum cleared the waivers, teams were already showing their interest in the 31-year old Frenchman. However, according to Shams Charania, Batum has already chosen where he wants to play next season: L.A. Clippers.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 29, 2020
Bounce Back Season
With Kenny Atkinson as an assistant coach can the Clippers bounce back?
— BetOnline.ag (@betonline_ag) October 26, 2020
The Clippers are expected to bounce back after a crushing end to their 2019-20 campaign. With a new head coach in Tyron Lue, the team is currently second in the odds board to win the Western Conference at +325 behind the Lakers. They are also tied for third in the oddboard to win the 2021 NBA title at +650.
Oddsmakers have listed their win total at 46.5 with the over and under going at 115. That win total is just one win shy of the Lakers’ projected 2021 total and equivalent to a 64.58% winning percentage which is less than the 68.1% winning percentage or 49-23 record they posted last campaign.
Losing Harrell was a big blow, especially since he transferred to the other side of Los Angeles. But With their new acquisitions, the Clippers can always make up for his production. If Batum does end up signing with the Clippers, he will give them depth, experience, and something they lacked last season.
Something That the Clippers Lack
Batum is coming off his worst NBA season ever. He averaged a career-low 3.6 points per game and played in just an average of 23 minutes per outing, his lowest action since his rookie season in 2008-09. The Frenchman shot just 38% from the floor and 28% from behind the three-point arc, also a career-low, while playing in just 22 games. He missed the Hornets’ final 22 games as Charlotte was focusing on player development and youth movement.
Last season wasn’t the best for Nicolas Batum. Not only was the season shortened by the pandemic, he was hampered by injuries early on, and the rebuild did him no good. But if the old version of Nicolas Batum shows up for the Clippers, he will provide them with something that they lack- the depth behind Kawhi Leonard.
Defensively, Batum had a defended field goal percentage allowed of 43.4%. Per Synergy Sports, he was ranked in the 95th percentile in defending ball handlers in the pick and roll situation and 65th percent in isolation situations. With a seven-foot wingspan, he has the ability to guard multiple positions.
But Batum isn’t just a versatile defender, he is also a terrific three point shooter who is a career 35.7% from deep. This past season, he passed Hedo Turkoglu for the 5th most three-pointers made by an NBA player born outside the United States. Just two seasons back, he shot 38% from three-point range so given the right shots, he’s going to contribute in that department.
Valuable Bench Contributor
There’s no assurance that Nicolas Batum will be revitalized in L.A., but given the Clippers’ need and their options, Batum presents a low-cost option who has the potential to be a valuable bench player | @jovanbuha https://t.co/N8OlhSC3x2
— The Athletic L.A. (@TheAthleticLA) December 1, 2020
The Clippers have one of the best superstar duos in the league in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. They have an excellent defensive point guard in Patrick Beverley and a consistent veteran scorer in Marcus Morris. The team has a productive young big man in Ivica Zubac and they shored up the frontline by adding Serge Ibaka. But outside the starting unit, L.A. needs help.
The Clippers lost Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell to their rival Lakers in free agency. Harrell leaves a huge void in the team’s scoring production, especially off the bench. While Batum may not offset Harrell’s production, he can be a valuable contributor to a bench that is led by another Sixth Man of the Year winner in Lou WIlliams.
L.A. added Luke Kennard who is coming off a season-ending injury. If he can return to 100% form, he will help the Clippers improve on their three-point shooting. Along with Ibaka and Batum, the Clippers have some good weapons to improve on one of their biggest weaknesses last season.