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New York Knicks: Intriguing Free Agent Two-Way Players

1. Nicolas Batum, SF, Charlotte Hornets

Nicolas Batum will reap the benefits of the salary cap boom this summer. He projects as a max player no matter where he goes. As crazy as that might seem, it’s not as much about him as it is the way the league is trending.

He’s the type of versatile wing that every GM wants and every coach trusts. He can shoot, pass, and defend multiple positions.

When it comes to scoring though, Batum is strictly a shooter. According to Basketball-Reference, the average distance of his career FGAs is 16.4 feet. 47.5% of those have been three-pointers. Batum shoots 36.0% from beyond the arc for his career, so those numbers shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

Batum is coming off the best scoring season of his career, helped largely by a superior perimeter game. He was 34.8% on three-point attempts and 36.5% on catch and shoot attempts from downtown and made his open looks, going 38.6% on “open” threes and 37.2% on “wide open” threes (via NBA.com).

He particularly excelled while moving off the ball, finishing in the 84th percentile in points per possession on plays while coming off a screen going away from the basket.

The point forward led the Charlotte Hornets in assists and assist percentage during the 2015-16 season.

Batum was a smart, aggressive passer, evidenced by 41.2% of his assists coming on makes in the restricted area (via Nylon Calclulus).

Batum’s defense is a subject for debate. Some people would tell you that he’s a great perimeter defender while others would argue he’s wildly inconsistent. It’s hard to argue with the latter.

Batum makes plays on defense but he is prone to inexplicable lapses of the James Harden variety.

He can be a bit spacy, and playing defense without bending your knees is just straight up weird, but Batum has a 7’4″ wingspan that allows him to disrupt passing lanes and help out his teammates. Your defense is better with him on the court than with him off it.

Batum may not be the Knicks first choice. He may not have any interest. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t inquire.