Shaq says his game hasn't deteriorated as much as the public seems to think it has. Turns out he's right.
"If I'm taking 20 shots a game, and I'm only making two, then you can say my production is going down," O'Neal said, "but I'm still shooting 60 or 65 percent from the field. So they've got to find better ways to get me the ball. It should be simple."
Unlike past claims of Shaq's (see: "I make 'em when they count" from the foul line), the numbers support the Great Aristotle on this one. The man is playing just 27.5 minutes per game, and his 10.5 field goal attempts per are the lowest of his career. His field-goal percentage (.603) and true shooting (.592) haven't been higher since 2003. Though the free throw shooting is still putrid (.473), it is at its highest point since 2004. Further, though Shaq's 7.8 rebounds per game figure is substandard for him, it is actually higher than last year's number (7.4), athough his minutes are down.
No, Shaq isn't the player he once was, and his ego is likely at a point where it has surpassed his game. He isn't as strong a rebounder and isn't as dominant an interior defensive presence as he was once, and even at this best now, he isn't the same explosive post scorer. But just because he isn't the world's most dominant basketball player anymore doesn't mean that there isn't plenty left in the tank. The Great Aristotle is still far more part of the solution than the problem in Miami.