Even Travis Outlaw would have to agree.
If Portland were 2-1 heading into Utah on Wednesday evening, chances are he’d still be the starting small forward on this young season. But since the Blazers need a more defensive presence at 1-2 and rank among one of the smelliest teams defensively in the league at this time, Nate McMillan made the executive decision on Tuesday to name Nicolas Batum his starting three.
Actually Outlaw should be thanking McMillan for the move. Travis should also be buying Nicolas dinner.
Let me explain.
If it wasn’t for Nicolas stepping up on the defensive end for Portland, Outlaw wouldn’t be returning to a role he’s clearly more suited for and should easily own once again. It’s like this: the second unit should belong to Travis, just as much as it does to Rudy Fernandez right now. And the energy the second unit should bring will only showcase Outlaw’s abilities that much more. They got lost in the starting lineup. They’ll standout more in the “white unit.”
What will be even more interesting to see is what transpires once Martell Webster eventually returns from his foot injury. How does McMillan spread the minutes around then? Where does Batum and Outlaw fall on the depth chart? That’s down the road a ways, but a realistic topic we’re sure to have again.
Let’s stick to the now.
The other day, I posed the poll question: When will Rudy start? I should have clarified the meaning – how long before Rudy starts at the two, thus leaving Brandon Roy to slide over to the three? You got the drift regardless. In fact, the majority of you said “not before Nicolas.” You were right on.
Was that response due to late voter turnout? Or are Blazer fans simply standing in awe of this kid three games into the season?
Chances are you are seeing the same thing Nate is. Stand away.
pic via: daylife