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Clipperblog:Shane Battier: The answer to the Clippers’ small forward problem?

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by Clips/Roxfan, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. Clips/Roxfan

    Clips/Roxfan Member

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    http://clipperblog.com/2011/07/25/shane-battier-the-answer-to-the-clippers-small-forward-problem/

    Posted by Jovan Buha

    Trying to characterize Shane Battier is one of the more difficult tasks as a basketball writer. How do you find the perfect balance between describing the nuances that make Battier a special player without overstating the clichés that have come to define him?

    The Battier Scouting Report: He’s selfless. He only cares about winning. He does the little things. He’s an intellectual player. He’s an excellent defender. He’s the ultimate role player/glue guy.

    Now that we’ve established those well-worn traits, we can evaluate and assess whether Battier, an unrestricted free agent this offseason, fits into the Clippers’ plans.

    The Clippers need an upgrade at the small forward position. In fact, the Clippers’ search for a small forward has been ongoing since the franchise arrived in Los Angeles. Looking back through their bumpy history, the Clips’ best player was almost always a guard or a big man, rarely ever a wing player – Marques Johnson notwithstanding.

    Over the past decade or so, the Clippers’ small forward woes intensified. The team has had a revolving door at small forward, forcing shooting guards to play out of position (Corey Maggette, Cuttino Mobley, Quinton Ross, Rasual Butler), relying on inconsistent journeymen (Bobby Simmons, Vladimir Radmanovic, Tim Thomas, Travis Outlaw), and, somewhat recently, handing a starting job to a one-dimensional scorer (Al Thornton).

    With the addition of Ryan Gomes last season, the Clippers felt they had temporarily solved their wing issue. Gomes seemed like a decent fit: a complementary piece who could defend, score when need be (career 11.2 PPG up to that point), space the floor as a shooter and stay within the confines of his role.

    Unfortunately, Gomes had a career-worst season at 28 (the age when most players are entering or enduring their prime), posting career lows in points, rebounds and percentages across the board; his PER of 9.04 was embarrassing, especially for a starter. Put kindly, the Clippers misjudged Gomes’ fit with the team and overestimated his capabilities (he was never the knockdown 3-point shooter they coveted to spread the D).

    What does any of this have to do with Shane Battier, you’re asking? Well, Battier is the player the Clippers were looking for last offseason (a good defender, capable of stretching the defense, intangibles/fundamentals/cerebral guy, etc.), he just arrived one free agent class too late. Fortunately for the Clips, if signed, Battier can expunge Gomes’ mistakes and potentially become the perfect complement to Blake Griffin, and Eric Gordon.

    There are several unique qualities Battier can bring to the Clippers, many of which stem from his high basketball IQ. One of Battier’s premier offensive skills is floor spacing, as he understands when to slide from the wing over to the corner, when to cut back door off his man, and when to pop out to allow penetration. Within the Clippers’ offense, Battier’s spacing would allow both Griffin and Kaman to work in the post and on the block, with the option of kicking out to Battier in case a double team ensues.

    Take a look at the Clippers’ roster. The only two perimeter players that can stretch the defense, and open up the paint for Blake/DeAndre Jordan/Chris Kaman, are EJ and Mo Williams.

    EJ, as Nick Flynt pointed out, has evolved into more than just a spot-up shooter, and it’d be a shame to restrict his offensive talent into such a menial role. Battier’s presence would allow Gordon to roam freely on the perimeter without worrying about spotting up, enabling him to observe the defense for openings to the rim.

    Mo, although more of a “2” than a “1”, is a better passer and creator than advertised, and can excel as both a shooter and distributor if given the chance. Battier’s spacing would create gaps for Mo to penetrate and dish to Blake, kick it out to EJ/Battier, or finish himself. Simply adding another shooter of Battier’s caliber would create an entirely different dimension to the Clippers’ starting line-up.

    Despite lacking athleticism, speed or quickness, Battier is also one of the league’s elite defenders. He compensates for his lack of athleticism with wisdom as he angles opponents off into his help defense, rotates efficiently off of his man and helps box out the opposing team’s best rebounder. His trademark move defensively (yes, you read that correctly), which gained publicity during his ’09 playoff dual with Kobe Bryant, is blocking his opponent’s vision by putting his hand in their face while they rise up to shoot.

    Thanks in large part to a habit instilled by Darryl Morey and his staff in Houston, Battier prepares for each game by studying shot charts of his opponents, analyzing their tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. He knows who’s better going left, who likes to pull up from 15 feet, and who can’t dribble with pressure. The information he collects allows him to have a leg up on the competition, as he is able to maximize his defensive efforts by forcing players into their least efficient shots areas, or situations, possible.

    More important than his offensive or defensive talents is Battier’s impact on the team itself. The way he prepares for games (as mentioned above) is bound to wear off on some of the Clippers’ younger players. His analytical and cerebral approach to the game would help increase the Clippers’ collective basketball IQ; his communication defensively would have an immense effect on the young squad still trying to find its identity. A locker room leader in Houston, Battier could provide guidance and wisdom to a team lacking a veteran’s presence.

    Michael Lewis, the author of Moneyball, sums up Battier’s game best in his New York Times’ article “The No-Stats All Star” from 2009:

    Battier’s game is a weird combination of obvious weaknesses and nearly invisible strengths. When he is on the court, his teammates get better, often a lot better, and his opponents get worse — often a lot worse. He may not grab huge numbers of rebounds, but he has an uncanny ability to improve his teammates’ rebounding. He doesn’t shoot much, but when he does, he takes only the most efficient shots. He also has a knack for getting the ball to teammates who are in a position to do the same, and he commits few turnovers. On defense, although he routinely guards the N.B.A.’s most prolific scorers, he significantly *reduces their shooting percentages. At the same time he somehow improves the defensive efficiency of his teammates — probably, Morey surmises, by helping them out in all sorts of subtle ways. “I call him Lego,” Morey says. “When he’s on the court, all the pieces start to fit together. And everything that leads to winning that you can get to through intellect instead of innate ability, Shane excels in. I’ll bet he’s in the hundredth percentile of every category.”

    As with any free agent, though, Battier comes with caveats. The soon-to-be 33 year old had visible drop-offs in productivity last season, and it’s only a matter of time before his defensive effectiveness is eventually compromised. He’s also not the most attractive free agent, as Caron Butler, Tayshaun Prince and Andrei Kirilenko all have more impressive résumés, skill sets and are better offensive options.

    Furthermore, Battier would probably want to sign a three or four year deal, likely the last lucrative one of his career. Four years is likely too long of a deal (he’ll be 37 by then), and even three may be pushing Battier’s luck against Father Time; two would be ideal, although it’s unlikely Battier would agree to such a short deal.

    Of course, the most important concern for the Clippers is how Battier, or any other free agent, affects their cap space. Battier would likely command between $5-6 million per season, a slight dip from his current salary ($7.4 million this season), but a reasonable compromise nonetheless as he heads into his mid-30s. It may just be a pipe dream, but what if Dwight Howard, Chris Paul or Deron Williams decide they’d be willing to play in L.A.? In that scenario, the Clippers would need to need to create as much cap space as possible, and signing an expensive, long-term contract this offseason would potentially hinder their chances of acquiring a superstar.

    To get to this point — on the cusp of becoming a playoff team — the Clippers had to draft well, acquire the right talent, be patient and have a little luck.

    To get to the next level — a perennial playoff team that can compete in the postseason — the Clippers will need to add veteran pieces that complement their young nucleus. Battier may not be the most talented or offensively savvy free agent, but sometimes less is actually more (there’s another cliché!).

    No matter his inevitable drop-off, Battier would still be an upgrade over the Gomes-Moon combo, and will likely be better than Aminu for the next couple of seasons. After a decade-long search for an above average small forward to fit their team dynamic, the Clippers could potentially have one in Battier.

    Twitter: @JovanBuha
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. Carl Herrera

    Carl Herrera Contributing Member

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    He's a perfect fit for Donald Sterling. He likes having people admire his beautiful black body in the locker room.
     
  3. Mathloom

    Mathloom Shameless Optimist
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    He's a perfect fit for the Clippers. If they sign him, I can see them snatching a #4 seed.

    The Clippers team is extremely talented, but they lack a defender at the 3, strong 3-pt shooting, and a true veteran leader.

    Kaman/Jordan
    Blake
    Battier/Aminu
    Gordon
    MoWilliams/Bledsoe

    I think in terms of where he can make the most impact, it's probably the Clippers.

    Then again, Battier probably wants a ring now and I'm not sure if Clippers+Battier is better than Grizzlies+Battier. What we do know is that Boston and Miami don't desperately need swingmen. I can see him fitting into the Lakers team, giving Kobe some rest and providing an alternative to Artest.
     
  4. W22_STREAK

    W22_STREAK Member

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    Washed-up vet. Lets be real. Battier is no better than James Posey right now.
     
  5. Ricksmith

    Ricksmith Contributing Member

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    The Clips have enough offense, they need a defensive stopper. While Shane isn't the defender he used to be, he's still effective and an upgrade for the Clippers. I hope he goes there, rather than the Heat (but the Heat give him the best shot at a ring :().
     
  6. Carl Herrera

    Carl Herrera Contributing Member

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    What the hell are you talking about?

    Posey managed to play less than 850 minutes last year, shot a dismal 34% from the field with a Ariza/Rafer-like disgusting .485 TS%. When his team made it to the playoffs, he didn't play a single minute.

    Battier played 2300 minutes last season, shot 45% from the field, with a .567 TS%. When the Grizzlies made it to the playoffs, he played 336 minutes in 13 games.


    Battier is still a contributor, Posey is washed up.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. da_juice

    da_juice Member

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    I can see them going after him or Tayshaun and getting neithe.
     
  8. DaDakota

    DaDakota If you want to know, just ask!
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    He would be a great fit for that young up and coming Clippers team.

    DD
     
  9. Clips/Roxfan

    Clips/Roxfan Member

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    The Clippers would probably want to offer Battier a 2 years deal at around 5-6 million, Battier would probably want at least a 3 year deal at around 5-6 million. Do you guys think Battier has another 3 years left in him?

    Another problem with the Clippers is that they're giving $4 million a year for the next two years to a dead weight player in Ryan Gomes. If Shane Battier fails to live up to his deal, than the Clippers could be giving around $9-10 million a year to two ineffective small forwards...
     
  10. Don FakeFan

    Don FakeFan Member

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    Paying Battier MLE money is a bad idea. His game does not worth that much.
     
  11. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    Battier might be good for the Clips, but the Clips would be terrible for him. They give him none of:

    (1) the chance to win a title (even with Griffin, that organization will never win anything),

    (2) the comfort of staying home (he didn't want to leave Houston and uproot his family, and probably doesn't want to leave Memphis now either), or

    (3) the respect he deserves (Sterling doesn't care about basketball and doesn't treat his people (or anyone else) with respect or pay to provide many of the basics players on other teams take for granted).

    Battier is a good guy. I'd sooner see him win a ring for Lebron than have to spend his last years hopeless, uprooted and disrespected in Clipperland.
     
  12. parmesh

    parmesh Member

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    Let's be real.
    Every freakin' post I have to read from you seems disparaging and/or wrong.
     
  13. W22_STREAK

    W22_STREAK Member

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    Battier's stats in Memphis (regular season)

    5 ppg
    4rpg
    42.6% fg%
    33.3% 3pt%
    1.4 apg
    0.7spg
    0.4bpg

    postseason:

    5.5ppg
    4rpg
    1.4apg

    james posey's indiana stats:

    5ppg
    3rpg
    0.7apg
    0.5spg

    Ok, see? James Posey is the kind of player that would be cut instantly if there was an Amnesty Clause the owners can use, and so to say you are better than James Posey is not saying much, if at all. Sure, Posey did not play in the Playoffs, but that only serves to indicate how bad a player Posey is.

    When you consider the situations the teams are in, Indiana is a rebuilding team that's just keen to give time to young guys like George and Collison and Hansborough lots of playing time, and Memphis is trying to make the playoffs like if there was no tomorrow. AND most imporantly, SF is the position Indiana is absolutely stacked at with Granger and George and Rush, while the loss of Rudy Gay meant there was no one at the SF spot for Memphis. If Battier didn't get those minutes, then who was going to play there? 6'6 Sam Young?

    And Memphis played in a LOT more games than Indiana in the playoffs, couple with the gaping hole at SF, its not surprising Battier played so much.

    Not hating on Battier, but at his peak he never did anything more than shoot the corner 3 offensively. Now he's not even any kind of a decent defender, so you really think he can contribute?
     
  14. W22_STREAK

    W22_STREAK Member

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    Lets be real.

    You obviously are oblivious to the fact that almost every Rockets player from the final chapter of the T-Mac/Yao era of 06'-07' are all out of the league now.

    Juwan Howard
    Rafer Alston
    Luther Head
    Steve Novak
    Dikembe Mutombo
    Yao Ming

    The only two players remaining are McGrady (due to immense talent) and Hayes (still young)

    Shane Battier, and the players I've listed above, does not have the kind of talent or age advantage to continue contributing in this league.

    And you think Shane Battier wouldn't follow suit?

    He is going to be 33. How many 33 year olds career role players are still playing any kind of considerable role in this league?

    But maybe you like to ignore the facts and continue to shout "you're wrong!!"
     
  15. RedRedemption

    RedRedemption Contributing Member

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    Battier doesn't really rely on his athleticism. He can last.
     
  16. infinitidoug

    infinitidoug Member

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    that makes two of us. i'm with u on this one
     
  17. Dreamin

    Dreamin Member

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    Iggy for Kaman is a much better fit for the Clippers. Great defense and play making, not as atheletic and quick as he used to be but still better than Battier. Battier isnt the defender and shooter he used to be, he is no longer capable fo playing major minutes. Then draft a hot shooting wing man to come off the bench.

    If Iggy falls, then Id like to see them make a play for Beasley.

    Battier will have competition with Prince in trying to sign for a contender. Dallas, Thunder, Chicago and Orlando will be looking at those two.
     
  18. Ubigman

    Ubigman Member

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    intangibles small time son. DEM STATS
     
  19. da_juice

    da_juice Member

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    They could get Beasley easily, maybe they give up Kaman at most

    Thinking about Kaman-Beasley is a fair and good deal for both teams.
     
  20. parmesh

    parmesh Member

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    Nah, I'm pretty sure your opinions are wrong, that's all. I believe Morey and other smarter GMs have better opinions than you, that's all.
     

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