11th October 10:31
Shaq's impact overstated
The theory goes that with Shaq in the middle, opposing teams are forced to
double and sometimes triple him thereby leaving the center's teammates wide
open for jumpshots. And the individual statistics posted by Shaq seem to
confirm this. Not only has he averaged 27.1 points per game over his career,
but he's done so while shooting 57.7 percent from the field.
In his most recent Finals appearance, the Detroit Pistons decided to defend
him in man-to-man coverage and O'Neal shot an incredible 63.1 percent from
the field while scoring 133 points in five games.
The problem, though, was that his team still lost.
After Shaq scored 34 points on 13-for-16 shooting to open the series against
Detroit, Pistons head coach Larry Brown decided against double or triple
teaming him. When he scored 36 points on 16-for-21 shots in the fourth game
of the series, Shaq still found himself in single coverage for the fifth
In between, he never shot below 50 percent and never had to go to the
free-throw line more than 16 times in a game, averaging only 11 per contest
after many playoff teams had resorted to a "Hack a Shaq" defense that once
resulted in 31 free throws in a single contest.
Of course, many ****ysts argued that he should have gotten the ball more,
taken twice as many shots, and his teammates should have force fed him with
countless numbers of passes.
But there is no indication that even that would have taken the Pistons out
of single coverage, which questions the theory that Shaq does make his
teammates' jobs that much easier and their potency on offense that much
The more Laker coaches were calling for the ball down low, the more Brown
knew that his opponent would run less for easy baskets, the less time his
opponent would have on the shot clock once the half-court offense was set up
and the more his opponent would become psychological dependant on Shaq at
the actual expense of his teammates' games.
These things simply don't show up in the boxscore.