NBA: Why Shane Battier Is the Perfect Fit for the Oklahoma City Thunder

Nikhil DilipCorrespondent IIIJuly 31, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 03:  Shane Battier #31 of the Memphis Grizzlies battles for position with Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first quarter in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 3, 2011 at Oklahoma City Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Shane Battier is one of the most underrated defenders in the league and is known for his ability to defend Kobe Bryant incredibly well.

The best Bryant defender in the NBA Western Conference, Ron Artest (Metta World Peace?), has been on the Lakers for two years, and Battier has stepped up to hold the title.

He played a huge role for the Memphis Grizzlies in their surprising run to the second (almost third) round.

Not only is the guy clutch on the defensive end, but he has his moments on offense as well.

At the end of Game 1 of the quarterfinals against San Antonio, Battier hit a huge three to give the Grizzlies a lead with less than 30 seconds to go.

Against the Thunder he held down Kevin Durant, as the two-time scoring champ averaged six points fewer than he did in the previous series against Denver. In terms of points scored, it was the worst performance of Durant's postseason.

The Grizzlies can actually afford to give Battier away. It's not like he was the only capable defender on their team. Tony Allen was a huge part of the reason why they made it past San Antonio; he was the glue guy on Manu Ginobili the entire series.

Battier made over $7 million last season, which he's not worth.

Now that he's a free agent, Oklahoma City can definitely afford him as Sam Presti will have a ton of cap space even if the new CBA demands a hard cap.

The guy's a capable vet, but, at 32, he's not old, per se. He will provide quality veteran leadership to a team whose oldest wing player, Thabo Sefolosha, is 27.

Durant can score the ball with ease, but he's not exactly the best defender. A guy like Battier can mentor him while he's still young and malleable.

Plus, as the Thunder try to get back into the thick of things in the Western Conference, they have a guy in Battier who can defend arguably the best postseason player in the league, Kobe Bryant.

With a guy like Battier on board, this team has the ability to make it to the finals and really make some noise in the Western Conference.