As his mother landed at Portland International Airport late last month, Nicolas Batum was beaming like only a son could. Sure, he was looking for a little home cooking, but even more, he was eager to show his mom his new-and-improved NBA game.

It had been almost two years since Sylvie Batum had seen her son play in the NBA, and roughly 14 months since United States customs agents detained her in Washington, D.C., and denied her entrance into the country during an attempted visit to Portland. She had seen Batum play in the NBA more than 50 times, but he was mostly young and unproven then.

This time would be special.

Batum had a more prominent role with the Trail Blazers, an exciting, do-it-all skill-set and a new swagger. Long before she boarded that plane to Portland, Batum told Sylvie she was in for a surprise.

"Remember what you saw two years ago?" Batum told his mom. "I'm a different player now. I'm going to give you a better show this time."

But Sylvie never witnessed the new-and-improved Nicolas Batum. By the time she arrived, his achy right wrist had tapped his talent and twisted his brain into a pretzel, simultaneously diminishing both his skills and his confidence.

As the Blazers cleaned out their lockers Thursday and went their separate ways toward an offseason of reflection, Batum was left with two bodies of work to reflect on.

There was the dynamic and sometimes-dominant game he showcased over the first 38 games of the season -- before he injured his right wrist -- when he was a contender for the NBA's Most Improved Player award and, perhaps, the second-best small forward in the Western Conference behind All-Star Kevin Durant. And then there was the inconsistent game Batum showed his mom, when his scoring, playmaking and confidence were reminiscent of the past.

"I'm not really satisfied by myself this year," Batum said earlier this week. "My wrist injury slowed me down too much. When I think about this season, I'm going to focus on the second part. The first part was great; I was playing good. But I have to find a way to go through those injuries and play through that and be more of a leader. I have to be better for my team."

Despite the bitter end to a promising season, Batum can take some solace in this: For half a season, Blazers fans finally saw the difference-making ability that multiple coaches and front offices have been touting. After years of teasing, Batum finally evolved into a franchise cornerstone, delivering the across-the-board skills that some believe can make him a future All-Star.