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NBA, NBA Draft / Jun 10, 2008 / 9:30 am

Nicolas Batum: The French Phenom

IMAGE DESCRIPTIONNicolas Batum (photo. Matt Costa)

The sight of the 6-8 French wing Nicolas Batum might actually make Jay Bilas‘ head explode: with a 7-4 wingspan, he’s probably the longest prospect in this year’s draft.

In all likeliness the 6-9 Italian forward Danilo Gallinari will come off the board before Batum, but the Frenchman has unreal potential, which is the reason that he’s going to fall somewhere between the Knicks at No. 6 and the Raptors at No. 17 according to his agent.

While Batum has been criticized at points during his Euroleague season for not asserting himself, it’s tough to argue with someone whose physical tools are this impressive. His skill set is reminiscent of Rudy Gay‘s at Connecticut without the jaw-dropping athleticism. He’s better at pulling up for a mid-range jumper than spotting up for three. And even though he disappeared at times during the 40-minute five-on-five run, he wowed some onlookers when he caught one dude real bad on a transition dunk.

Ultimately, scouting Batum isn’t about what you see him do, it’s about what you can imagine him doing. He and fellow Frenchman Edwin Jackson were bombing away from close to 30-feet when the camp broke for lunch. Even though they only made close to 30% of their shots, Batum’s jumper was so effortless. Could he develop a Kevin Durant-esque jumper from way out? Possibly, but he doesn’t have it yet.

Much more is unknown with Batum than with Gallinari. “Gallo” has proved to be a leader and a versatile player who can score from basically everywhere on the floor. Eurocamp director Pete Philo, who is the man on the international scene, said Gallinari is a combination of Dirk, Lamar Odom and Toni Kukoc.

That sounds like a perennial contributor in the League – but not necessarily an All-Star. Batum, on the other hand, could become something really special as he grows up.

If you’re a GM, what’s your move – the guy who is likely to be a steady contributor for the next 10-12 years (Gallinari), or someone who could put butts in seats but might never realize his full potential? (Batum)

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  • http://www.myspace.com/carli_borikua4life daquest?on

    I’d be hesitant to pick either of them. Andrea Bargniani had alot of hype going in into his draft and he is far from being a star, he is not even the best player in his draft class. But if I had a gun to my head I would probably pick Gallinari because he looks like the safer pick.

  • doc

    They all sound like a bunch of bums to me.

  • Celts Fan

    all I’m saying is remember when Mickael Pietrius was “The French Jordan?” Sounds about the same. I’ll pass… Give me Gallinari

  • elusive303

    Nikoloz Tskitishvili all over again? Please No!

  • D

    late first round, early second rounder maybe? Don’t risk too much, stash him, either here or let him play for a few more years overseas. Then see what happens. Seen the youtube footy, and he’s definitely not a bad player. But then again, it’s Euroleague….

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    From the picture posted with this article Batum looks a lot like Gerald Green. Maybe that’s a sign of things to come. Another freakish athlete who never really finds his niche in the L… Or maybe not.

  • Kudabeen

    Batum just sounds too much like Boris Diaw for my taste. He did have that one good year, but I count Heart. I can’t ride with a guy whose heart is in question. That will be a guy that gets overpaid and produces little. That will be a guy that doesn’t play through pain (not injuries, just pain). That will be a guy that shrinks when your team needs him to be the difference maker (Odom, Dirk anyone?).

    I like reading about all the talents in Europe, but I get exponentially concerned when they’re hearts are in question before they even get to “Big Stage”… Just me.

  • Celts Fan

    exactly Kudabeen, and honestly, that’s why college is so important too. You can see which freshmen tend to shrink in bigger moments (DeAndre Jordan anyone?) and who tends to stand up (Derrick Rose.)

  • http://creampie.com the real marcus

    batum sounds too much like mike pietrus…

    …and gallo… well… it’s either he’s a bargnani or a skita…

    nuff said…

  • M.Balla

    Gallinari is OVERRATED (IMO Belinelli is better than him… yes, that bench scrub, Belinelli) and Batum is a BUST (wingspan? long? yes, and useful)

    The European rookie of the year is clearly and without a doubt Rudy Fernandez. Props to PHX for giving him up. Deng/Iguodala, Rondo and Fernandez could be on that roster… LOL

  • Matt_from_ITA

    Gallinari is not overrated. he is much better than belinelli and bargnani. gallo is a beast an he’s skilled. but the important thing is that u can’t even imagined how determined and “mentally strong” hi is. i think that if he is lucky to end up on the right team (good coach, big minutes,…) gallinari is going to kick some ass! for sure

  • http://knicksdefense.com knicksdefense

    everybody’s a phenom with tremendous upside.

    …aren’t you the same guy that blew smoke up our asses about Ike Diogu a few years ago? yeah, how’s he doin’? now you’re talking about this guy batum in the same light, I’ll take that bet with you on batum being better than gallinari.