March 24, 2011
Batiste has now been with the team for eight years, and can pretty much be granted honorary Greek status by now. He started fairly slowly this year, and his 12.9ppg average in Euroleague play trails his 16.9ppg of last season. Nonetheless, he has crescendoed as the season has gone along, and is back to scoring in the more or less unstoppable way he's practiced now for the best part of a decade. Nicholas, meanwhile, provides the team with a consistent outside shooting threat. Were it not for his presence, the team would lack for such a characteristic, as outside shooting is the one thing at which prized incomer Romain Sato does not excel. Sato drives, posts, defends like crazy, rebounds, and tries to run the court, yet jumpshooting is the weakness in his game. By no means is he a non-shooter, but he is not a natural at it. Drew Nicholas is a natural at it.
January 6, 2010
- Mike Batiste
Remember Mike Batiste's stint in the NBA with the Grizzlies? Nor do I, really. After going undrafted out of Arizona State in 1999, he spent a year injured, a year in Belgium and a year in Italy, signed with the Clippers for 2002 training camp, and was claimed off waivers by the Grizzlies in October. Batiste spent a year with the team, playing 1,248 minutes in 75 games, averaging 6.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 0.9 turnovers a game. It was the only season of his NBA career.
At the time, Batiste was a 6'8 225 combo forward who played mostly small forward, but who hadn't quite figured out the position. The turnover numbers were high, as Batiste was not a ball handler, and he shot only 22% on three pointers on the season. After leaving the NBA, Batiste signed with Panathinaikos in Greece; unbelievably, he's still there seven years later. In that time, he's re-designed his game again, going from an athletic combo forward to a hugely strong post player. Batiste has beefed the hell up, now known as "The Beast" not only for the rhyme but for his strength, and he's a post-up option that most of Greece fails to stop. This season, Batiste is averaging 15.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in only 19 minutes per game in the Euroleague, and 10.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 19 minutes per game in the Greek league. (As for why he plays only half the game; Panathinaikos are 12 deep. Everyone only plays half the game.)
He is aided in his European career by his Bulgarian passport, which allows him to quality as a European player. Given that he has never played or lived in Bulgaria and seems to have no Bulgarian heritage, this passport seems a trifle illicit. I guess someone who can pull strings wanted him to stick around.
Another forgotten Grizzlies player in the early part of the decade was Antonis Fotsis. Fotsis was picked by the Grizzlies in the 2001 second round, played one year, and left. He is now Batiste's teammate at Pana. Billy Knight and Jerry West dug out some under-the-radar talent in those years, but it didn't really do them any favours.