Best Rocket (2009)

Shane Battier

Ever since Michael Lewis branded Shane Battier "the No-Stats All-Star" in The New York Times Magazine, the six-foot-eight forward has been one of those guys who is so often called underrated that he might be just a tad overrated. And it's true. After all, even after both Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady went down with injuries, Battier couldn't take the Rockets to the NBA championship, now could he? We kid, of course. In fact, we imagine that if the script had been flipped and it had been Battier sidelined instead of Yao and T-Mac, the Rockets might have gone down in the first round instead of the second. Lewis argued that Battier's mastery of things that don't show up in box scores — drawing charges, playing pesky, relentless defense, and improving the efficiency of his team's rebounding and offense in ways too subtle for all but the most astute to detect — have led to overall team improvement at every stop in Battier's journeyman career. Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey — among the first to fully value Battier's hidden talent — calls him "Lego." "When he's on the court, all the pieces start to fit together," Morey told the Times magazine. "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."


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