PHILADELPHIA — New Philadelphia 76ers forward Nic Batum introduced himself quite nicely to the City of Brotherly Love on Monday. He had 11 points and knocked down three triples off the bench in a 146-128 win over the Washington Wizards at home.
The performance was impressive considering he had been away from the team to deal with personal issues. He didn’t know much about the style the Sixers like to play, so he was out there just playing by instinct for Philadelphia.
However, when playing with a guy like Joel Embiid, the game is easier.
“My first seven years, I played with LaMarcus Aldridge,” said Batum. “So, he made the game pretty easy for me. That is different. That was different. Oh my God. I hated it — like Jo is my guy. We’ve known each other for a while. We have the same roots from Cameroon, so we’ve been friends for a while, but I used to hate being on the other side.”
“The other side” Batum referred to is when Embiid is dominating and there’s nothing one can do about it. The big fella had one of those nights Monday. He had 48 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, and this time, Batum was on his side rather than taking the loss.
“I guess some guys that are just happy to be on the other side,” Batum added. “To be on this side, tonight, yeah. It was fun. I’ve been there. A game like this — he’d have 40-something and 15. It’s not fun, though. To be on this side on this kind of night? Yeah. It’s cool.”
Along with Embiid’s stellar performance, the Sixers received 22 points and a career-high 11 assists with zero turnovers from Tyler Maxey. Batum was impressed with the way he performed.
“He’s good,” Batum said. “The kid is talented. He’s got everything to be successful. To be great. He’s gonna be an All-Star very, very soon for a long, long time. Also a guy you’re happy to have on your team.”
With Batum back in action for the Sixers, the question of his role arises. How many minutes will he play? Will he eventually start? Will he continue his bench role?
Batum said he does not care — as long as the team is winning.
“You’re gonna get to know me,” he deadpanned. “I don’t care about that. Starting, off the bench, five, 15, 20 minutes. As long as we’re winning games, I’m good. That’s his job. That’s pretty tough to deal with so I don’t want to add, like, pressure about it, so anything he asks me to, I’m gonna do it. Whatever.”