Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we pose a question to a panel of ESPN fantasy basketball experts to gauge their thoughts on a hot topic.
Today's contributors are ESPN Fantasy's Jim McCormick, André Snellings and Kyle Soppe.
It's been a disappointing campaign for Nicolas Batum, but he has been racking up some great box scores lately. What are your expectations for him the rest of the season?
Kyle Soppe: Batum is the one player I can never seem to quit. I've gone to the meetings and I've spoken with professionals ... I've tried to get help, but nothing has cured me yet. That said, my vice doesn't have to be yours, and I'd encourage you to heed my warning: He's not worth it.
Batum's usage rate is as low as it's been since joining the Hornets, and that's a major problem, considering that he is averaging his fewest minutes during the past six seasons.
We've (and by "we've," I obviously mean "I've") been teased before by production bumps like this in each of the past two seasons ... it doesn't last. I'm looking for his numbers up to this point to be roughly what we see the rest of the way.
André Snellings: Batum's struggles this season were primarily due to health reasons, much like last season. When healthy, he still has the physical gifts and talent that make him such an intriguing fantasy prospect.
His production of late is exactly what I expect from him when healthy, and what I would project for him the rest of the season. During his past 10 games, Batum has averaged 17.5 points (47.6 FG%, 81.1 FT%) with 5.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 2.5 3-pointers and 1.0 steal. These seem like reasonable baseline expectations, barring further injury.
Jim McCormick: I have (likely too) many shares of Batum, given how he came at a sizable injury-induced discount in drafts this fall, so I've followed his campaign closely and watch (likely too) many Hornets games.
That said, there has been a sizable shift in Batum's offensive involvement early in games since coach Steve Clifford returned to the team two weeks ago. Batum is averaging 14 shots per game during his past five games, compared to just 10.1 attempts during his first 34 appearances.
I think the team, and particularly Batum, is still learning to shift from the perimeter-centric ball movement offense of last season to Dwight Howard's old-school post approach.
Given there has been a real shift in Batum's usage and role since Clifford's return and not merely shooting regression, I'm willing to buy that his recent small sample reveals the potential for a more rewarding trend. If Kemba Walker is surprisingly dealt, then Batum's fantasy stock becomes even more promising.