How likely is it for LA Clippers’ Nicolas Batum to log just as many points as the superstar tandem of Devin Booker and Kevin Durant in the fourth quarter of a win-or-go-home game? Not too likely. But it is exactly what happened.
In game five against the Phoenix Suns, the Frenchman swished five three-pointers en route to a 20-point (12 in the fourth) finish in a nearly-complete comeback run. But the veteran forward’s heroics, as great as they were, were nowhere to be found prior.
In the first four games of the first-round series, Batum cashed in on just one of his nine field-goal attempts, amassing a grand total of three points. Not to mention, his plus-minus numbers were all negative in those games, dropping as low as -17 in game two. He was pretty much non-existent — running up and down the court and occasionally putting up a shot.
But his presence in the regular season was much more palpable, though it didn’t quite live up to the standards we’ve come to set for the 34-year-old.
Batum continued to be the Swiss Army knife of the organization. The forward gave it his all for the team. He played 78 games; when asked to, started in 19 games; took on some of the hardest defensive assignments — all without a single complaint. Oh, and he also made quite a few shots while doing so.
Especially for an injury-stricken, load-managing team like the Clippers, the Frechman’s continued efforts, availability and leadership were invaluable.
On the flip side, however, his numbers did take a slight decline.
Nicolas Batum did not have his best season for the LA Clippers
In his most recent season for the LA Clippers, Nicolas Batum’s field goal percentage dropped from 46.3 to 42 percent, and so did his three-point conversion rate from 40 to 39.1 percent. These minimal changes were maximized in the playoffs, however. In his eighth year in the post-season, Batum shot more than 6 percent worse from the field and saw a steep drop in his offensive production: 8.1 points in 2021 compared to 4.4 in 2023.
Understanding many of Batum’s points in the 2021 playoffs were lead-building or momentum-shifting shots in the clutch, the Clippers certainly very much missed those big corner threes and fast-break buckets this time around.
All things considered, it’s hard to get a clear grasp on how well or badly Batum’s season went. For a 34-year-old role player, he was better than most. But for a team that desperately needed the most from its support crew, he could’ve done a little more.
Maybe “pleasantly mediocre” is the right way to describe Batum’s 15th season in the league.