Thursday, February 21, 2008

Evaluation of Shaq in Phoenix

I watched Shaq's first game in a Suns uniform last night. Here are a few observations:

1) Shaq can no longer score one on one in the post. While he can still gain position on anyone, he honestly doesn't deserve the double team. He has diffculty turning, can no longer elevate, and has diffculty finishing if it is not a slam.

2) He is no longer a dominant rebounder. I think that he has diffculty getting into position, and cannot adjust to the ball as well in the air. He is probably good for 7 a game (thats pretty good, but not Shaq good).

3) His major contribution to the Suns now is his ability to take up space in the paint on offense and defense. Did you see Amare's numbers last night? A lot of this was becasue Shaq was occupying so many people on the boards, and forcing big men to move around him, so Amare was running free all over the place.

4) Even though he can't block shots like he used to, he still is a defensive presence. Players are still affraid to dive the lane when he helps. I think Phoenix should consider running zone variations to maxmize his defense abilities. Shaq can no longer match up one on one against the other teams best post player. He just doesn't have the quicknes or the feet to do it. He commits a lot of fouls because of this, and the running zone will protect him as well.

5) He is easily exploited on the pick and roll. Kobe and Pau are a great pick and roll tandem, and not every team will have that, but Shaq really struggled last night. He can't hedge, and he can't recover. That pick and roll was there all night.

Overall, I thought Shaq played ok, and in fact better than I expected. I think he needs to realize that he is the 4th option offensively behind Nash, Amare, and Hill/Diaw. He also needs to look more at offensive rebounding to get his points and touches. He is no longer a legitimate post threat, and dumping the ball down to him will result in a turnover more often than not. Those people who were worried about the Suns slowing down, don't need to after last night's offense barrage. It is clear that the Suns are no worse from this trade, whether or not they are better remains to be seen.

It's is diffcult to judge a player on one game, especially when he is recovering from hip surgery, so take this comments with a grain of salt. Let's see after a month.


Ben said...

i think he is still a decent offensive option in the low post and i disagree that a turnover is the most likely outcome of sending to him. he can still pass very well from the low post in addition to scoring his 15 a game. regardless of how you view shaq's performance in that game and since, i agree that it will take more than a couple weeks to determin if the suns are better with him. western playoffs are going to be incredible either way.

Srikant Narasimhan said...

did you watch the detroit game !!!!!!!