Portland Trailblazers (USA-NBA)Career:
Le Mans (France Pro A, 2004-08), Portland Trailblazers (USA-NBA, 2008-11)
Nicolas Batum's road to stardom has greatly accelerated over the past three years. A European star in all youth categories, he was a winner with the U16's in 2005, a winner and MVP with the U18's in 2006 and a silver medallist in 2007 at the U19 World Championships. Probably the best European player from the 1988 generation. There were some doubts about Nico's ability to succeed in the tough NBA environment. The talent was there, but journalists were comparing Batum to a deer caught in car headlights. A look to his stats for his first three NBA season just gives a clear idea of Nico's improvement, and nobody calls him "Bambi" anymore. Playing at the same position, he took so much playing time away from Rudy Fernandez, that the Spanish star asked for a trade. Nicolas' personal story is quite sad, since his father, Richard Batum, a former pro player in lower divisions, died on a basketball court from an aneurismal rupture while Nico was still a child. The story was so heartbreaking for Nicolas and his mother, that when Batum was visiting NBA franchises and having medical check-ups before the NBA draft, he innocently answered to a question saying his father died from a heart attack. This answer threw open questions about his own health and almost compromised his NBA career.