Shane Battier: 2011-2012's Most Important Free Agent

Curtis ClontzCorrespondent IIDecember 14, 2011

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 12:  Shane Battier #31 of the Miami Heat poses during media day at American Airlines Arena on December 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The National Basketball Association has been through a lot this offseason. At times it seemed like the offseason was extended simply to appease David Stern.

With a much different feel, this annual downtime has been more about the trades that did and did not happen than free agency. After all, last year's “Decision” was one of the most overrated and over-displayed pieces of sports journalism in history.

When LeBron James took his skill from the friendly confines of Cleveland to the hustle of South Beach it was all but guaranteed that he would get a championship. A year later, he has no rings, but finally may have the missing piece that can get him his first ring.

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It may come to a surprise to many, but that missing piece is none other than former Duke superstar Shane Battier.

Playing under one of the best coaches of all time, Battier was a quick learner at Duke. His ability to play well on both sides of the court pushed him into a talented starting lineup! During his tenure at Duke, he played in two Final Fours as his team won the title in 2001. In addition to these trophies, he was also a three-time Defensive Player of The Year and 2001 NCAA POY.

At Duke, he was a special player who was certain to make a splash in the NBA. Duke may not be a traditional NBA powerhouse, but Battier fit the mold and is the perfect picture of what Duke creates.

The defensive skills that he perfected in college truly make him a special player on any team. This season, he will be putting on a Heat jersey for the first time. It is also the first time he will be playing on a team with such talent. He is also going to be the best defensive player that D-Wade, Chris Bosh or Lebron James have ever had on their team.

Shane Battier is the type of person who strives to be the best defender on the court. LeBron James is known as an offensive juggernaut, but his defense isn’t in the same ballpark as Battier.

In addition to playing D, Battier will be an inside/outside threat who will be able to spread the floor. This allows the big three to draw more single coverage opportunities. Also improving second-chance opportunities due to offensive rebounds, the importance of this signing deserves much more interest.

Shane doesn’t have stats that will wow you. He will never be the top scorer on a pro team and will never be considered the best on the team. He is the type of player who is always hustling. He is the type of player every coach wants on their team and every single player wants by his side.

Prior to this pickup, I was picking the Heat to barely beat the Bulls for the East. Now, they are heads and shoulders above everyone!


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