When you talk about the most dominant players in the history of the NBA, one of the first names that come to mind is Shaquille O’Neal. But with the evolution of the game, the question comes up, if Shaq could still be doing the things he did in his era today?
In his prime Shaq was a 7′ 1″, 340 lbs heavy center that could run and jump. A force that could not be stopped in the post. You had two choices. You could just try to foul him or get out the way. The only weakness was his free throw shooting. Some would argue if he improved on that then it would be game over. However, he was still unstoppable.
In his era, post play was a lot more respected and used in offenses. There were a big number of excellent and skillful centers that would get the ball in the post and do their thing. But today the game has evolved and expanded more to the three-point line, as guards and shooters are taking over the game, while the center position is slowly fading away.
So could such a big player that lives in the post still be so dominant in today’s NBA? ESPN Rachel Nichols had an interesting comment (via “The Jump“):
That’s what always cracks me up when people are like, ‘Oh Shaq in this era – it would be different.’ It would not. The era would conform to Shaq, Shaq would not conform to the era.. 3 is more than 2, but 2 is more than 0..if you can just get that automatically every time, it’s there
She has a very valid point. Although 3 is more than 2, a 3 is a much riskier shot than a layup. If you could guarantee a good shot at a basket, you will take that every time instead of the three. That’s why the Shaq would not have to defer to the league today, but the league would have to adjust, as he could still back down in the post to get an easy dunk or pass it out for the open three if he gets double teamed.