Charlotte Hornets: Would Nicolas Batum benefit from a bench role?

Charlotte Hornets Nicolas Batum (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Nicolas Batum (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Charlotte Hornets haven’t gotten a ton of production from Nicolas Batum as a starter. Would a move to the bench be good for the veteran?

Bringing a man who signed a contract worth $120 million off the bench would not be ideal, but it’s a move that could be worth a try for the Charlotte Hornets.

Nicolas Batum hasn’t brought a ton of production as a starter from a scoring standpoint, averaging just 9.3 points in 31.3 minutes of action. He does, however, make up for that lack of scoring with his all-around play. He averages 5.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

There’s no doubt about it, the Hornets would like to see a more aggressive Batum as we approach a key stretch of the regular season. He’s been efficient this season, but at times, he looks like he doesn’t even want to shoot the ball.

If you were to move Batum to the bench, you could feature him as the top option off the bench. He would have the ball in his hands a lot more, and with his playmaking ability, he’d be able to create his own offense, as well as set up his teammates for buckets.

The Charlotte Hornets have been really up-and-down defensively lately. Over the past 12 games, they have given up an average of 109.4 points per game, which is not ideal.

More from Swarm and Sting

So, if Batum did indeed move to the bench, you could then replace him with a defensive player in the starting lineup, like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. MKG has earned a reputation over the years as being one of the better perimeter defenders in all of basketball.

James Borrego has given no indication or willingness to move Batum to the bench, so this is all just speculation coming from me. Batum has started every single game as a member of the Hornets, and that will likely continue moving forward.

I do think that you would see more production from Batum in a bench role. Promoting Kidd-Gilchrist as a starter makes sense, too. He would guard the opposing teams best player on most nights, something he is more than capable of doing.

Like I mentioned earlier, Batum’s problem isn’t his efficiency. He shoots 46 percent overall and 39 percent from three-point range. The problem is his shot attempts. He sort of gets lost in the offense at times with Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb doing the majority of the scoring.

Moving him to the bench would give him more shots and maybe even more confidence. I know he isn’t exactly a fan favorite, but Batum is a good player, and he has shown that throughout his career.

Just two seasons ago, Batum was averaging a career-high 15.1 points and shooting the ball 12.7 times per game, which was also a career-high. He then suffered an unfortunate elbow injury right before the start of last season, and things have been down since then.

I do think Batum takes a lot of heat from fans, and I think the main reason for that is because of his massive contract. He’s always been a solid player, but hasn’t lived up to his $120 million contract. Bringing a player who makes that type of money off the bench won’t make many very comfortable.

However, I want to give you an example here. Gordon Hayward, wing for the Boston Celtics, got off to a tough start this season, and was moved to the bench. He’s only started 17 games this season for Boston, but has play on the court has gotten better and better over time.

This isn’t the best comparison, because Hayward is a much superior talent and is also coming off a gruesome ankle injury. You had to expect him to be pretty rusty after missing an entire season. But still, he looks comfortable coming off the bench.

Earlier this season, Hayward became the first Celtics player in franchise history to record 30+ points, 9+ rebounds and 8+ assists in a game as a reserve.

Most recently, Hayward became the first Celtics reserve to score at least 26 points and make six three-pointers in a game since sharpshooter Eddie House did back in 2009.

Next. Should the Charlotte Hornets target Rui Hachimura?. dark

I’m not saying Batum will play at this kind of level, but I do think a bench role would be good for him. It would help his aggressiveness and he would be one of the better bench players in the entire league, in my opinion. He’d give the Charlotte Hornets a legit sixth man.