Jeff Van Gundy recently stated (rather breathlessly) that he now considers the Celtics a possible threat to the suddenly-mighty Heat because of the Shaq acquisition. Interesting notion. Is there any logic behind it?
Shaq was, in his heyday, a formidable low post scorer. But life is lived in the present, and presently, or rather, the last time the present = real basketball, Shaq's offensive performances are better characterized as somewhere between "nauseating" and "barely adequate."
For a guy who lives no more than 5-6 feet from the basket and NEVER takes an outside shot, his 56.6% raw FG% last season was underwhelming... the 3rd worst of his (very long) career. But wait, there's more....
A lot of points in an NBA game come from the foul line, right? Well... not when Shaq's playing. You would think that with 18 years (!) to practice/hone his shot, his FT shooting would gradually improve over the years. So why is it that there are freshman girl high school players with better FT% than Shaq had last season (49.6%)? I don't care to look up these next comparisons, but Shaq might be the only major NBA player to AVERAGE a better FG% than FT%. I mean folks... you gotta be some kind of head case to be that bad at the charity stripe for so long.
Truth being true then, we must look to Shaq's TS% (true shooting %) to get a real sense of his value as a scorer. Last season it was 56.5%, nearly the worst of his career. (How many NBA players' TS%s go DOWN after adding in 3-pointers and free throws?!) For comparison, Perk's TS% was 61.3% last season, despite his horrible FT% (58.2%).
(Say...btw... do these NBA players not get paid well enough to PRACTICE THEIR FREE THROWS at least enough so that their FT%s DON'T GO DOWN year over year??? Is there ANY POSSIBLE EXCUSE for Perk AND SHAQ to be getting WORSE from the line as they get older? Excuse me while I VOMIT... disgusting is the best I can say about those two nincompoops.)
They say Shaq will help with rebounding, one of the Cs' weaknesses last season. Shaq in '09-'10 had the VERY WORST season of his career in offensive rebounding, grabbing only 9.4% of available offensive rebounds. (To his credit, his defensive rebounding remained reasonably adequate.)
Here's a couple of numbers that have remained high for Shaq, though:
- His turnover rate (per 100 plays) was 15.7% last season. (At least there he's an improvement over the incredible, vaseline-coated hands of one Kendrick Perkins, who came in at 20.4%!)
- Shaq's Personal Fouls per 36-minutes-played came in at 4.9 last season, nearly an all-time career high, and higher even than Sheed's already-disgusting all-time-personal-record-high number of 4.5. Yippee! (At least the refs will have something to keep them busy when the Celtics play, right?)
Ok, so his offense isn't what it was anymore. But this man-mountain can block shots, can't he?
Actually... Shaq sucks on defense. The man cannot defend the pick and roll to save his life. And he won't. This dog ain't learnin' any new tricks, if that's what you're dreaming. His overall Defensive Efficiency last season was 106 (pts per 100 possessions). For comparison, Perk's was 101.
Btw, did you think Sheed sucked on defense last season? Well, his Def Eff was 100. 'Scuse me, but I'll take Sheed over Shaq on a defensive-minded team like the Celtics anytime.
I'd like to know what the Celtics are going to do when they get pick-and-rolled TO DEATH next season, when Shaq's on the floor. And if you think they won't, I've got a bridge to sell you.
And what about blocking shots, that thing he CERTAINLY can do? Last season, per 36 minutes, he blocked 1.8 shots, close to his career low. For comparison, Perk came in at 2.2, while Sheed (who's not even there to block shots) swatted 1.4 per 36 minutes.
Just having a big body down low is not – or rather, should not – be the goal when building your front line in the offseason. An EFFECTIVE big body is what you need. And what DannyBoy didn't get.
When the Cavs picked up Shaq a year ago, I said it was one of the 3 worst off-season moves in the entire NBA. That turned out to be true, imo. (The other two: Orlando giving up Hedo for Vince, and LA giving up Ariza for Artest. Artest saved himself in Game 7, but I remain unconvinced.)
Why was Shaq such a bad choice for the Cavs last year? Everything above, plus the simple fact that he's too big, too old and mostly: TOO SLOW. When he's on the court, the whole rhythm of his team slows down, on BOTH sides of the court. Slowness = death in the NBA today. Therefore, ANY team Shaq joins at this point gets worse, not better. And of course, this year, he will only get worse.
Is there hope that the Celtics in '10-'11 will prove to be an exception to Shaq's downward trajectory? It's possible that Shaq will do little harm, if he really plays the backup role as he says he will. I.e., if he is not left in games long enough to wreak the havoc his many flaws can wreak. But then... he cannot have much of positive impact either.
Bottom line: There is NO WAY for Shaq to be the difference maker on the Celtics team next season. There is NO WAY that Jeff Van Gundy, and certain other members of the blathering class, are correct in thinking that.
This was a bad move. Cs just got worse. And with the loss of Sheed and TA... and Tom Thibs, too... they can hardly afford to subtract even more by adding Shaq.
By blowing games 3 and 6 of the Finals this year, the Celtics proved to me that whatever championship heart they ever possessed, it was good for one season and one season only. Now we must add stupidity to their ever-growing list of problems. You're adding Shaq? Old, slow, fat Shaq??? And you're NOT kidding????
Jeff Van Gundy, however, takes the prize for maximum stupidity, since he apparently believes Shaq will be the difference maker for the Celtics next season. What can ya say? 'Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated, drunkenness sobered, but...... stupid lasts forever.' "Forever" in this case = 1-2 seasons, after which the putative 'window' ceases to exist. I say that advisedly, since that window is already firmly slammed shut.