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The Nicolas Batum trade looked risky for the Hornets at the time, but it's been all peaches ever since.

By Ben Golliver
September 13, 2016

In fairness to Michael Jordan and Rich Cho, this is a good time to reassess the Hornets’ decision to trade Noah Vonleh for Nicolas Batum last summer. At the time, the move seemed short-sighted and risky: Vonleh was a 2015 lottery pick, Batum was coming off a down year and his contract was up after the season. But so far, everything has been peaches for Charlotte, as Vonleh hasn’t shown much in the way of development, Batum bounced back to have a good contract year, and the Hornets successfully inked him to a $120 million contract this summer. While there’s still plenty of time to worry about whether Batum (14.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 5.8 APG) will live up to his new deal, which runs through his age-32 season, for now the focus should be on the present. As a versatile playmaker, proven pick-and-roll initiator and passable outside shooter, Batum injected significant new life into Charlotte’s attack, making life easier for Kemba Walker and facilitating a transition to a more modern, less post-centric team approach. His presence paid dividends in the standings and from an entertainment value perspective: Charlotte was not only winning more than it lost, but it was finally a better show than drying paint. Batum, 27, will never rise to the level of a No. 1 option, but the Hornets would have been ruined in the short-term if he had left this summer, which says a lot. (Last year: No. 55)

+ His arrival helped lift Charlotte to its most wins (48) and best offensive efficiency rating (107.1) since the franchise was reestablished in 2004
+ One of only five to average at least 14/6/5 last season (LeBron, KD, Westbrook, Harden)
 Shot just 28.8% in clutch situations and 19.4% from deep last season
Despite his long-standing reputation as a good defender, lapses in awareness take a toll on his impact

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