Height: 6-8 | Weight: 214 | Position: SG
The Sports Xchange
Touted as a potential lottery pick after his stellar performance at the Nike Hoop Summit, Batum decided to withdraw from the 2007 NBA Draft in late April, hoping that another season of Euroleague competition would help his game mature. After a streaky 2007-08 campaign, his lack of aggressiveness, marginal ball handling skills and an obvious lack of bulk have more than a few teams feeling this youngster still needs a season or two to grow into an NBA caliber player.
Batum was a member of the French U-16 and U-18 National teams, playing for youth teams with MSB Le Mans. In 2004, he guided his squad to the European U-16 championship. The following season, he played in the 2005 European U-18 Championship. He later won the gold medal at the 2006 European U-18 Championship.
Batum made his debut with Le Mans Sarthe Basket on their 2005-06 French National Championship team. He only appeared in two games with the big club, scoring six points on 2-of-5 shooting while grabbing a pair of rebounds.
In 2006-07, he played 33 games at small forward (both Euroleague and French League competition) for Le Mans. He averaged 4.6 points and 1.7 rebounds in 12 Euroleague contests, and overall he shot 50.8 percent from the field (67-of-132 field goals), making 15 three-point shots. He also grabbed 95 rebounds.
The following year, Batum saw action at the three- and four-spots, appearing in 30 games, starting all 13 Euroleague contests. He poured in 369 points (12.3 ppg), as he hauled in 151 rebounds with 108 assists and 40 steals. He shot 52.3 percent from the field, 34.8 percent from three-point range and 75.3 percent from the free throw line.
Positives: Has very good agility, balance and a large wingspan (84 inches) for the small forward position, but his ability as a ball handler and outside shooting stroke make him a better fit at shooting guard (prefers to play the two-spot, as he is too frail looking and has a lack of aggression in the paint to play at the three-spot) ... Best operating as a swingman coming off the bench, as he is a good rhythm shooter, but will also disappear for long stretches on the court ... Has very creative skills with the ball in his hands, but needs to play with more aggression ... Has good stop-and-go action, doing a nice job of using his crossover move to put down a pull-up jumper ... Demonstrates a good feel for the flow of the game and is an unselfish type who has no problems distributing the ball to an open teammate if he thinks the man has a better shot selection ... Gets the crowd excited with his "no look" passes across the lane to feed a charging cutter ... Shows good drive on dish plays and hits the open teammate without that man having to break stride on Batum's post-entry passes ... Very creative with the ball in his hands, evident by the sharp increase in his assists (from 51 the previous season to 108 this year) in 2007-08 ... His quickness moving around the court allows him to set up easy baskets for his teammates with his crisp passing skills ... Gets good elevation for the put-back dunks playing along the offensive glass and has the balance to cut to the basket, elevate and feather the ball into the rim ... His in-between game made good strides the second half of last season, as he has the high release point and the quickness to create separation to put up a deadly mid-range jumper ... Not really a great shot creator, as his offensive game is spotty, but he does find the seam in the defense to make quick cuts to the basket, as he always looks for an open teammate on the way to the rim ... More comfortable firing from the perimeter, showing good body control and a nice drop step to pull up off the dribble and glide to the rim ... Has valid three-point range, but just needs to be more selective taking those spot-up treys ... His reach allows him to execute the long range off-the-dribble shot over his head, causing the smaller defender to struggle in attempts to deflect his shot ... Very comfortable taking shots from beyond the arc ... Is very effective using a right-handed hook shot when playing in the low post ... Likes to step back coming off screens to elevate and fluidly put down the long-range shot ... On defense, he demonstrates the quick feet and reach to hedge the guards and does a good job of getting his hands into the action to generate a steal ... Uses his long arms well in attempts to alter his man's shot ... Those arms are excellent weapons he uses in shut-down defense, staying in front of the shooter with arms extended to prevent the clean shot ... Does a good job of setting up blocks ... Gets by slower forwards with ease, thanks to his explosive initial step, quick feet and good feel for angling to the rim ... Still a work in progress with his offensive game, but is developing good range on his jump shot ... High percentage type of shooter who can get out and run, pushing the ball up the court ... Has a fluid pivot move to slip past the slower defenders on the lay-up, showing good extension.
Negatives: Lacks true aggression, shying away from contact often, making him a better candidate for shooting guard than at forward ... Needs to drastically improve his overall strength and add bulk to his frame, as he gets pushed around too often in the paint ... Does not like finishing around the basket and while he has NBA caliber three-point range, he is a streaky shooter (shot 28.3 percent in 2006-07 and a little over 31 percent for his career) who will take ill-advised and off-balance shots just for the sake of firing the ball (seems to have a flawed jumper) ... His motor is not always running, lacking ideal intensity and must do a better job of asserting himself ... With his athletic ability and skill repertoire, he should be more dominant as a shooter, but is unselfish almost to a fault, spending too much time trying to find the open teammate rather than just charge the basket (does not draw contact well) ... With his athletic agility and elevation, he should be fighting through screens rather than taking a long loop to avoid ... Lacks aggression on help defense, giving a side at times to the bigger men, who then drive past him on the way to the basket (better defending vs. smaller opponents, another reason to consider him more at guard) ... Decent ball handler when he keeps the ball down, but when he gets too loose with his dribble, he is inviting an oncoming guard a chance to steal ... Lacks the bulk or power to defeat double teams and needs to be more alert to the opponent's help defense, as he sometimes runs right into his man ... Will just go through the motions at times, rather than try to beat his man off the dribble ... Lacks a consistent game, as he will go through long stretches where he is not involved in the action, so much so, he is not on the court that much in crunch-time situations ... Even when going up for the rebound, rather than put the ball back with a resounding dunk, he will just push the ball out to a teammate in the paint ... His offensive game might take longer than expected to develop, especially around the basket, but he is much more comfortable parked at the perimeter ... His shooting mechanics, especially his follow-through, needs major refinement ... Must show better determination and effort staying in front of the bigger shooters when guarding around the basket.
Compares To: BORIS DIAW-Phoenix ... Some scouts liken Batum's game to Memphis' Rudy Gay, but based on his three seasons with Le Mans, it is obvious he lacks the scoring touch, ability to attack the rim and consistency that Gay displays. Batum is a shooting guard trapped in a small forward's body. He has excellent athletic ability, but lacks strength and aggression to generate much of an inside game. He is a streaky shooter along the perimeter and unselfish to a fault, looking for an open teammate rather than just attacking the rim himself.
Appeared in 65 games during the last three seasons with Le Mans Sarthe Basket, scoring 369 points (8.3 ppg) ... Shot 51.7 percent from two-point range (203-of-393), 31.9 percent from three-point range (46-of-144) and 70.7 percent from the foul line (87-of-123) ... Grabbed 246 rebounds, including 80 from the offensive glass (3.8 rpg) ... Credited with 161 assists (2.5 apg), 63 steals (1.0 spg) and 17 blocked shots (0.3 bpg).
Played in 30 games, seeing most of his action at shooting guard, but also logged good minutes at small forward ... Led the team in scoring with 369 points (12.3 ppg), making 134-of-256 field goals (52.3 percent), 31-of-89 three-point attempts (34.8 percent) and shot 70-of-93 from the free throw line (75.3 percent) ... Grabbed 151 rebounds, including 47 from the offensive glass (5.0 rpg) ... Collected a career-high 108 assists (3.6 apg), as he also had 10 blocked shots and 40 steals (1.3 spg).
2007-08 EUROLEAGUE GAME
ANALYSISMade 34-of-64 field goals (53.1 percent), 9-of-31 three-pointers (29.0 percent) and 16-of-24 free throws (66.7 percent) for 111 points (8.5 ppg) while starting all 13 games in Euroleague action ... Also had 35 assists, 19 steals and six blocked shots ... Scored nine points with six steals, five assists and three boards in the Euroleague season opener vs. Maccabi Elite ... Added 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, grabbing five rebounds with a pair of assists vs. Aris TT Bank ... Put in 12 points on 3-of-5 field goals to go with three rebounds vs. Unicaja ... Had a season-high 24 points, making all seven field goals, along with a trio of three-pointers, as he added four boards and four assists in the second meeting vs. Maccabi Elite ... Snared four rebounds, doled out three assists and scored eight points in the second game vs. Unicaja ... Closed out the Euroleague competition with 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a trio of steals vs. AJ Milano.
Appeared in 33 games for Le Mans, lining up at small forward ... Scored 164 points (5.0 ppg) in 535 minutes of playing time ... Shot 50.8 percent from the field (67-of-132), 28.3 percent from three-point range (15-of-53) and 55.6 percent from the free throw line (15-of-27) ... Brought down 95 rebounds (2.9 rpg), with 32 coming from the offensive side ... Produced 51 assists (1.5 apg), 23 steals (0.7 spg) and blocked six shots.
2006-07 EUROLEAGUE GAME
ANALYSISStarted 2-of-12 games in Eurloleague competition ... Scored 51 points (4.3 ppg), making 16-of-27 field goals (59.3 percent), 10-of-13 free throws (76.9 percent) and 3-of-11 three-point tries, as he also delivered eight assists and nine steals ... Started vs. Olympiacos, scoring 15 points, as he made all five free throws, grabbed four boards, had two assists and a pair of steals ... Added eight points on 3-of-6 shooting, bringing in three rebounds with two steals and an assist vs. Prokom ... Totaled seven points, four rebounds, three steals and an assist vs. Rhein Energie ... Ended the Euroleague play with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting, as he also had three boards vs. Tau Ceramica.
Only played in two games, scoring six points on 2-of-5 field goals and 2-of-3 free throws ... Handed out two assists and blocked one shot.
YOUTH BASKETBALL Member of the French U-16 and U-18 National teams, playing for youth teams with MSB Le Mans ... In 2004, he guided his squad to the European U-16 championship ... The following season, he played in the 2005 European U-18 Championship ... Won the gold medal at the 2006 European U-18 Championship ... Won MVP honors at the 2006 Albert Schweitzer Tournament, leading France to first place.
INJURY REPORTavailable, but has not missed a game the last two years.
Born 12/14/88 ... Resides in Pont l'evêque, Lisieux, France.