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|New Celtics center Esteban Batista, above, will have to play well in training camp in order to make the team.(Courtesy of NBA.com)|
There’s a lot to be known of one of the Celtics new acquisitions, Esteban Batista. A lot remains to be seen with him, and he may not even be on the team by the time the regular season starts. There are a few things we do know about the forward/center. He’s 6’10”, and he’s the first player ever from Uruguay to play in the NBA. Batista potentially could fill a void on the depth chart at the center position. Sure the signing seems good, but why him and why now?
Batista earned a spot on an NBA roster by impressing many this summer at the FIBA Championships in Las Vegas while playing for Uruguay. Batista averaged 20.8 points and a tournament-leading 12.4 rebounds per game. The rebounds were eye-catching, and some teams came calling (Boston, Charlotte, Indiana, Phoenix). It would appear that Danny Ainge feels the Celtics are in need of some big help. Another motive to the signing would be to motivate the guys at the bottom of the depth chart (Jackie Manuel, Brandon Wallace, Gabe Pruitt) that they still have to earn their spot on the team. Batista’s signing along with Dahntay Jones brought the C’s to a roster of 17 players, two more than the league maximum.
He’s played in the NBA for two seasons since 2005 with the Hawks. Last season, Batista played sparingly for Atlanta, averaging 6.2 minutes, 1.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in just 13 games. He played 57 games (3 starts) in his rookie season, averaging 1.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 8.7 minutes per game. In limited playing time, Batista will need to make the most of his chances in order to be a successful NBA player.
Batista also seems very motivated to succeed at basketball in the NBA. When he signed his first contract with the Atlanta Hawks in 2005, Batista discussed the NBA’s appeal in a conference call:
“What appeals to me the most (about playing in the NBA) is having the opportunity to be a part of this world that all basketball players dream of. Not all players are fortunate enough to make it at such a young age, and it’s a real honor for me to be a part of this league. I can’t wait for the season to start and hope to be able to stay for a long time, because there really is no better league than this one. I really have to work hard to earn a spot in this league.”
While these comments were from 2005, he’ll have to work hard again to earn a spot on the Celtics, and it’s good that Batista understands that. This should make for a competitive training camp. Personally, I feel that he’ll win the backup center spot behind Scot Pollard and Kendrick Perkins. Batista’s size and his obvious rebounding capabilities cannot be overlooked, and he should land a one-year guaranteed deal for the regular season. But, even if he does make the team, it’ll be in an extremely limited role, as fans may see him play in less than half of the Celtics team games (40 or so). If Pollard or Perk goes down with an injury, however, expect Batista to step in and get significant minutes.
Esteban Batista’s player projection for 2007-2008: