Can Nicolas Batum Bounce Back for the Charlotte Hornets This Year?

Charlotte Hornets Nicolas Batum (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Nicolas Batum (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Continuing with our Charlotte Hornets’ player profiles, we are now looking at veteran wing Nicolas Batum. After his injury and inconsistency last season, can Batum get back on track this year?

Nicolas Batum has been the definition of “consistent” since his NBA career began. While not being flashy or putting up incredible stat lines, Batum always has done exactly what is expected of him. His career averages are 12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists per game, while shooting a respectful 35% from 3-point land. He even had his best season of his career while playing for the Charlotte Hornets during the 2016-17 season, putting up 15 points/6 rebounds/6 assists per game.

However, last season did not go as planned for Batum. After only playing in 64 games due to injury, Batum had his worst season since 2014 in terms of scoring, rebounding, and assists. With Batum headed toward his 30th birthday in December, injuries and inconsistency is something that is neither good for him or the Hornets. How can Batum bounce back in 2018-19 to get back on track?

Batum needs to focus more on efficiency and less on overall play as he gets healthy on a Hornets roster with plenty of wing depth

One thing hat helped and hurt Batum in his previous years with the Charlotte Hornets was lack of depth at his position. Batum is a shooting guard/small forward tweener, and has been the only productive wing player the Hornets have on roster.

That should not be the case in the upcoming season, now that several young wings with promising talent. A healthy Batum will be joined by Jeremy Lamb (who is coming off the best year of his career), second-year guards Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon, and rookie first-round pick Miles Bridges. With several solid options, Batum should be able to focus less on being star point guard Kemba Walker’s sidekick, and more on doing what he does best: shoot and defend.

Speaking of shoot, that is exactly what Batum needs to get back to this year. Batum should hover around 38% from behind the three-point line. He started his career in Portland shooting around that mark, but declined over time. Batum bounced back in his first year with the Charlotte Hornets, shooting 35%, but back to back 33% clips the last two seasons just won’t cut it. If Batum really wants to step it up as the starting shooting guard for the Hornets, he will need to get back to his roots.

light. Must Read. What to Expect from Kemba & Co. This Season

Predictions for Batum’s 2018-19 season:

  • 12 points, 4 rebounds per game, shooting 35% from 3-point line

While previous predictions for upcoming seasons have been more promising, unfortunately, Batum’s is not.  While he will be a starter for a majority of the year, Batum is getting older and slightly declining. New head coach James Borrego will be quick to shuffle young players in the lineup, and if they excel, will begin to take some of Batum’s minutes. I do hope that Batum can get back to his old ways, but I am nervous the Hornets will be heading in a new direction at his position if he does not pick it up this season.