Posted: Tuesday November 7, 2006 4:57PM; Updated: Tuesday November 7, 2006 4:57PM
Who would you rather have?
Each week, SI.com's Jack McCallum analyzes two players of similar talents and/or on-court tendencies. (Contracts and salary-cap considerations are non-factors.)
Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images
The U.S. Olympic team brought to camp two tough-minded, defensive-oriented "glue guys" during the summer. Only Shane Battier stayed. Bruce Bowen wasn't happy about being cut, but as befitting his team-first 'tude, didn't complain about it publicly.
In 10 seasons, Bowen has averaged just 6.5 points per game. He's not much of a threat when he puts the ball on the floor, but he's one of the most reliable three-point shooters in the league (especially from the left corner) with a career percentage of .388. His calling card is defense -- he has been a first-team all-defender for the last three seasons and a second-teamer for three years before that.
Battier hasn't been recognized nearly as much as Bowen for his D, but he, too, is known for relentlessly sticking to his man. He's a better all-around offensive player (10.5 points per game) and rebounder (4.8 compared to 2.9) than Bowen but hasn't had to perform in the spotlight nearly as much as his Spurs counterpart, who has been remarkably consistent in both of his championship seasons ('03 and '05).
"You might not want either of them to have the ball at crunch time," said one NBA assistant, "but they're both great team guys who can lock down anyone and they always give you everything they got."
A slight edge here goes to BATTIER, based on his youth (26 versus Bowen's 35) and multiplicity of talents.