44. Shane Battier
Shane Battier, a 6'8" small forward from Birmingham, MI, was born on September 9th, 1978. He made the 1997 McDonald's All American Team while attending Detroit Country Day School. He then joined the Duke Blue Devils for four seasons. As a senior, he scored 20 points with 7.3 rebounds per contest. The Memphis Grizzlies selected him in the first round of the 2001 draft with the sixth overall pick.
Battier played five seasons (396 games) with the Grizzlies for his first iteration with the team. He averaged 10.5 points with 4.8 rebounds per game. In the 2006 offseason, he signed on with the Houston Rockets (348 games), playing the next four and a half seasons with the team before rejoining the Grizzlies for 23 games near the end of the 2010-11 season.
On December 9th, 2011, Battier signed a three year contract with the Heat for $9,405,000. He started in 10 of his 65 games at small forward, averaging 23.1 minutes per game. He shot 33.9% from long distance and 38.7% overall, scoring 4.8 points with 2.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and one steal per game. He scored in double figures seven times and helped the Heat to a 45-20 record while in the rotation. In a 98-87 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on January 19th, he scored 11 points with six rebounds. He racked up a season high 18 points, shooting six-for-seven three point shots on March 2nd, also blocking four shots, gathering four rebounds, and making three assists in a 99-98 loss to the Utah Jazz (see below). Miami finished the season at 46-20 before defeating the New York Knicks in five, the Indiana Pacers in six, and the Boston Celtics in seven before downing the Oklahoma City Thunder in five to win their second NBA Championship. Battier led the NBA with 110 three point attempts and 42 made. He started 16 times, averaging 33.4 minutes while making an appearance in every game. In game two of the finals, a 100-96 Miami victory, Battier made five-of-seven three point shots, scoring 17 overall.
2012-13 would see Battier start in 20 of his 72 appearances, playing 24.8 minutes and shooting 42% overall (43% from long distance). He scored 6.6 points with 2.3 rebounds and one assist per game. Miami went 59-13 with contributions from Battier, who finished in double figures 16 times. In a 98-93 win over the Denver Nuggets on November 15th, he drained six of seven three point attempts with three rebounds, two assists and two blocks. He scored 11 points with six rebounds and two assists on March 8th in a win over the Philadelphia 76ers, 102-93. The Heat went 66-16 before eliminating the Milwaukee Bucks in four games, and the Chicago Bulls in five before dropping the Pacers and the San Antonio Spurs in seven contests each. Battier appeared 22 times through the playoffs, making 26-of-88 three point shots (.295). Then there was Battier’s amazing game seven performance against the Spurs (below).
In 2013-14, Battier’s last NBA season, he played in 73 contests through the regular season for the Heat, starting 56 times at small forward. He shot .382 overall and a slightly below average .348 from long distance. He scored 4.1 points with 1.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.5 blocks per contest. The Heat posted a 49-24 record with him in the lineup, versus a 5-4 record when he did not play.
On October 29th, in a season opening 107-95 win over the Chicago Bulls, Battier came off the bench to sink all four of his three pointers, scoring 14 points with two rebounds in 22 minutes. Using the GameScore metric, his best game of the season was on January 17th, when he scored 14 with four boards, three steals and two blocks in a 101-88 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers. On February 1st, in a 15-point win against the New York Knicks, he scored a season-high 16 points with two rebounds and two helpers in 29 minutes.
Battier played in 16 games through Miami’s fourth consecutive run to the finals, playing 12.6 minutes per game and scoring 2.3 points with 0.6 rebounds per appearance. He rejoined the Heat as their director of basketball development and analytics in February, 2017.
Stat Line: 210 games, 22.6 minutes, .398 field goals, .382 three-pointers, .714 free throws, 5.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.6 blocks, 9.8 PER, 10.1 Win Shares.
Cumulative GameScore: 1103.2
43. Kevin Willis
Kevin Willis was a 7' center for the Michigan State University Spartans. Born on September 6th, 1962, the Los Angeles native played prep ball with Pershing High in Detroit, MI. He joined the Spartans after one season at a junior college, and ended up playing three seasons there, averaging 12 points and 8.5 rebounds through his last two seasons. The Atlanta Hawks selected him in the first round of the 1984 NBA Draft, with the 11th overall pick.
Willis played 724 games in just over nine seasons with the Hawks, making the all-star team in 1991-92. He rejoined the team much later in his career, bringing his all-time stats for the team to 753 games (fourth all-time), 10,582 points (seventh all-time), 7,332 rebounds (third all-time), 581 steals (eighth all-time), and 425 blocks (ninth all-time). Two seasons into the 1994-95 season, the Hawks traded him with a draft pick (Walter McCarty) to the Heat for Grant Long, Steve Smith, and a draft pick (Joe Vogel). Miami inherited a four year, $11,675,000 contract in it's third season. Miami would be responsible for $6,625,000.
Willis started in most of his 67 games with the Heat that season, playing nearly three quarters per appearance. He averaged a double double, with an average of 17.1 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. He shot 46.9% from the floor. As advertised, Willis was a double-double machine, racking up 38 of them and scoring in double digits every time save five. He scored 31 points with 17 rebounds on December 2nd as the Heat beat the New Jersey Nets, 115-97. On December 21st, he scored 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting with 24 rebounds, playing 50 minutes of a 122-112, 2OT win over the Milwaukee Bucks. In a 100-99 loss to the Boston Celtics on March 21st, he racked up 20 points and 20 rebounds. Despite his heroics, the Heat only managed to finish with a 32-50 record.
In 1995-96, Willis played in 47 games, starting 42 at power forward. He shot 47.3% from the field and averaged 28.9 minutes, 10.2 points, and 8.9 rebounds per game. He finished in double figures 26 times with 17 double doubles. On December 23rd in an 87-75 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, he led the team with 22 points and 18 rebounds. He scored 25 points with 15 rebounds on January 4th in a loss to the Seattle SuperSonics, 84-81. On February 3rd, he scored 13 points with a season high 21 rebounds in a 100-99 loss to the Boston Celtics. Miami posted a 22-25 record with Willis. On February 22nd, the Heat sent him with Bimbo Coles to the Golden State Warriors for Chris Gatling and Tim Hardaway.
After finishing out the season with Golden State (28 games), Willis later played for the Houston Rockets (156 games), the Toronto Raptors (156 games), the Denver Nuggets (43 games), the Rockets again (52 games), the San Antonio Spurs (119 games), the Hawks for a second time (29 games), and the Dallas Mavericks (five games). He ranks sixth on the NBA's all-time games played leaderboard, with 1,424, and 24th in rebounds, with 11,901. He currently runs a clothing line for big and tall men, "Willis & Walker."
Stat Line: 112 games, 32.7 minutes, .470 field goals, .698 free throws, 14.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.5 blocks, 14.6 PER, 5.7 Win Shares.
Cumulative GameScore: 1135.6