Despite the league trending to more small-ball lineups and teams drifting away from the conventional post up center position, Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal claims he would dominate in this era just like he did during his playing days.
O’Neal is arguably the most dominant player in NBA history. During his prime, there was no way to stop him from getting deep position in the post and feasting in the paint. Shaq has career averages of 23.7 points and 10.9 rebounds and shot 58.2 percent from the floor.
Nowadays, big men are spending more time on the perimeter and shooting threes instead of scoring in the post, something O’Neal isn’t a big fan of. Shaq says he would still make his living in the paint and destroy all these small-ball lineups teams use.
“A lot of people say, ‘Oh, well, it’s a different game.’ No. When people are doing things different, that’s when you’ve got to do something different,” O’Neal said on the official Lakers podcast. “OK, everybody is shooting jumpers. Fine, but I make my money on the inside. A lot of people don’t understand it takes legs and strength to shoot the jumpers. A lot of people will try to shoot jumpers for three quarters against me. In the fourth quarter, banging up against me all the time, it won’t work. And then I would always have that physicality. Because, as you know, I don’t give a [expletive] about the fine. So those guys come into the lane, I’ve got to touch them up. All day, every day. Gotta touch them up.
“If I came up in this era, I wouldn’t shoot threes. That’s not what a big guy is supposed to do. If I played today, I’d average 50, without free throws. I’d average 50, because guys don’t play physical. They whine and they cry; I’m going to punish everybody. All these guys talking about shooting jump shots, you’re going to have to defend me. And you can’t defend me with three or four fouls. I’m just going to punish you. I haven’t really lost to a lot of guys that shot jumpers in my face, but I beat everybody by playing low. So I would definitely average 40. Easily.”
Shaquille O’Neal is right: He would absolutely destroy the competition in today’s NBA. There really isn’t a big man who can compete with Shaq in the paint.