Nicolas Batum And Wesley Matthews Garner NBA All-Defensive Team Votes
The NBA announced on Monday that Portland’s Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum each received votes for the NBA’s All-Defensive team.
Matthews received a total of 4 votes with one vote for first-team while Batum garnered 3 with one vote for first-team as well.
While it’s hard to argue with the players who made both teams (results below), Matthews and Batum usually played major roles in Portland’s best defensive performances.
Their most notable performance–which was after the ballots were already cast–was when both of them squared off and slowed down Houston’s James Harden in their first round series win. Matthews guarded him the majority but he and Batum would often switch.
They spoke to The Columbian in the playoffs about how close their relationship has gotten on and of the court.
“We can communicate without talking. I actually followed him home yesterday,” said Matthews on Sunday in Tualatin, Ore.
The two saved their best performances for when Portland needed them most against Houston with Matthews making a game-sealing steal in Game 4 and Batum slithering around screens contesting a potential game-tying shot by James Harden in Game 1.
Whomever the best perimeter player was on the opposing team it was Batum and Matthews that often guarded them.
Both players had moments on the defensive end while also carrying big loads for Portland’s offense.
Batum and Matthews both showed that they can defend at a high level and both could still get better on that end, mostly with their consistency.
Both players praised each other for their defense with Matthews saying that Batum was more competitive in embracing match-ups. Batum said Matthews was the best defender in the league in his defense of Harden in the postseason.
For what it’s worth, Batum had his best individual defensive rating of his career according to Basketball-Reference.
Both players getting better defensively and of course the addition of Robin Lopez helped the Blazers improve from their 26th overall rating last season.
Wesley Matthews got his one first place vote from Brendan Brown and two second place votes from Grantland Boss and NBA Countdown team member Bill Simmons and ESPN analyst Hubie Brown.
Batum got his first team vote from Mike Rice, whom you surely know from Blazers telecasts and he got his second team vote from Bill Worrell of Comcast SportsNet Houston.