It is hard to imagine that I would be proposing that The Big Gamble be selected for the 2008 All Star team. I did not like the trade and like most people thought that Shaq was done and the Suns were going to be saddled with $40m worth of role player. At best.
More likely was that Shaq would play no more then 40 games and in the process clog up the offense and turn a fantastic defensive Suns team (ha!) into an immobile foul machine.
Fortunately for Suns fans, that's exactly what
didn't happen hasn't happened.
Shaq came into this season fit and healthy and extermely motivated. He has been an all star caliber center putting up numbers and impacting the game as well as anyone. Only Yao and Timmy Duncan in the West and Dwight in the East are having better seasons and since the Spurs insist on calling Duncan a power forward he's not in the mix.
Vinny M. from Fanster.com breaks it down:
Yao Ming of Houston leads all Western Conference centers in scoring at 20.0 per game, but Shaq is 2nd, averaging 16.1 points per contest. In December alone, O’Neal is averaging almost 20 points per game, and is playing over 31 minutes per contest.
For the Suns Shaq has been the best player by far. He's played with the most consistency and intensity night in and night (when he's not resting) out.
Shaq leads the Suns in blocks, rebounds per 48min and is second in points. His defense in the lane has been active and his spry feet are allowing him to control the paint without getting into foul trouble.
The big fella is still a liability on pick and rolls and while he has tried at times to trap guards or cover out on the perimeter, the Suns are best when he hangs back and makes teams shoot over him.
Much is made about Shaq's skipping games but so far he's only missed 5. That's far fewer then Carolos Boozer and Tony Parker and only a couple less then Dwight. Resting Shaq makes sense.
Shaq will never get more votes then Yao (nor should he) but he also should be a lock to be selected as an all star reserve for 2008-09 season and he doesn't need a video campaign to do it.
Only Biedrins is close and his numbers are inflated by being the only big man on a small team with a losing record. Al Jefferson is a power forward listed as center and plays on an even worse team but even so deserves to be an all star as well.
The West has Bynum, Oden and Jefferson as the future big men but right now you have to call Shaq The Big All Star at least one more time (and when you do, thank Aaron Nelson, Suns Witch Doctor).