Nicolas Batum ‘Intimidated’ By Teammate Gerald Wallace’s Strong Start

Nicolas Batum is struggling out of the gates this season, and according to his coach Nate McMillan, he’s not putting up enough of a fight to regain his playing time. From the Oregonian: “If we are being straight here, Batum is feeling sorry for himself. He has been intimidated by the impressive start of teammate Gerald Wallace, who is starting in front of Batum. And Batum doesn’t yet have it in him to fight for his share of playing time and spotlight. We all know that he has a little vinegar in him, just ask the Lakers’ Pau Gasol, who two years ago was dunked on twice by Batum, the second one accompanied by Batum flashing two fingers in Gasol’s face. Of all the good guys on the Blazers, Batum is probably the nicest. I like to describe him as having a pure soul. The only problem is sometimes that persona seeps onto the court. If the Blazers are ever going to be more than just a playoff team, they need Batum to stop feeling sorry for himself, stop being so nice, and start going a little Gasol on opponents. ‘As I’ve said to him: ‘Don’t defer,’ Blazers coach Nate McMillan said Thursday. ‘Gerald has come in and become the starter, but I want him to approach it as: ‘I want that position back.’ I want (Batum) to be assertive.’ […] He is averaging 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in just more than 23 minutes a game. Last year he averaged 31.5 minutes. Part of his dip in minutes has been his play: He is shooting 9-for-28 from the field (32.1 percent), and part of it has been the Blazers are a deeper, more talented team this year. ‘There are a lot more players,’ Batum said. ‘I just have to stay focused.’ The focus should be in rediscovering the confidence he had in France, where he was one of the best players in the Euroleague. Instead, it appears Batum is focusing more on what his teammates are doing, and comparing himself to their results. ‘I learned things (in France), but Gerald is playing like an All-Star,’ Batum said. ‘And Jamal (Crawford) has played great. L.A. has been great. I try … I try to play great game, but …’ He reasons that he is used to being a starter, where he warms up and goes straight into the game. He reasons that he is used to playing more. ‘I just have to readjust,’ Batum said.”