A Big, Enormous, Talkative Fish in a Small Pond

Someone got me to thinking about Shaq's numbers this year.  Are they fool's gold?

He's played well, but we're competing for a championship, right?  That's what Shaq does when he gets angry, right?  How does he stack up "when it counts" -- like shooting free throws?

There is one big out-lyer in all these numbers.  The most recent Lakers game.  He went for 33 and 7 on 13 of 18 shooting.  This proves that he has the heart of a champion.  The rest of it shows he just may not have the body of a champion anymore.  This is why I contend he is at his most useful as the highest-paid roleplayer of all time.

Against the best teams in the league, the Suns lose if he takes more than 12 shots a game.  Against the best teams in the leauge, the Suns lose if he does not get at least 6 boards a game.  The Suns also lose games when he takes less than 12 shots or gets more than 6 boards.  However, they are winless if he takes more than 12 shots and they are winless if he doesn't get at least 6 rebounds (the last Lakers game excluded).

Here is a link to his game stats.  Here is a breakdown.

Against the Spurs

Game 1 (W):    15 pts (5-10) and 11 rebs

Game 2 (L):      23 pts (7-15) and 10 rebs

Game 3 (L):      13 pts (5-14) and 4 rebs

Game 4 (L):      14 pts (6-16) at 5 rebs

Against the Lakers

Game 1 (L):      15 pts (6-12) and 9 rebs

Game 2 (L):      12 pts (3-7) and 7 rebs

Game 3 (W):    33 pts (13-18) and 7 rebs

Against the Jazz

Game 1 (L):      9 pts (3-11) and 1 reb

Game 2 (W):    15 pts (5-7) and 10 rebs

Against the Rockets

Game 1 (L):      18 pts (7-12) and 13 rebs

Game 2 (L):      17 pts (8-12) and 5 rebs

Against the Celtics

Game 1 (L):      17 pts (7-11) and 6 rebs

Game 2 (L):      16 pts (8-13) and 12 rebs

Against the Cavaliers

Game 1 (L):      11 (5-7) and 6 rebs

Against the Magic

Game 1 (L):      19 pts (9-13) and 11 rebs

Against the Hornets

Game 1 (L):      8 (3-4) and 8 rebs

From a scoring perspective, he beats up on inferior opponents:

He has scored 25 or more against Milwaukee, Sacramento, Milwaukee (again), Oklahoma City, Dallas, Sacramento, Washington, Toronto and the Lakers.  That's 25 or more against playoff teams 2 times so far.  He has scored 15 or less against San Antonio, New Orleans, Indiana, Memphis, Detroit, Utah, Lakers, Miami, New Jersey, Dallas, Utah (again), Clippers, San Antonio (again), Sacramento, Golden State, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Clippers, Lakers (again) and San Antonio (again).  That's 15 or less against playoff teams 13 times so far.  Of that, he's had 12 or fewer against Indiana, Memphis, Detroit, Utah, Miami, New Jersey, Dallas, Sacramento, Golden State, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Lakers.  That's 12 or fewer points against playoff teams 7 times this season.

When he rebounds well, the Suns do well:

Shaq's had 24 games with 10+ boards.  The Suns are 16-8 overall in those games, and 7-5 against playoff teams.  Shaq's had 15 games with 6 or less boards.  The Suns are 6-9 in those games, and 1-8 against playoff teams.

His scoring is less important to the Suns' victories than his rebounding.  Further, his best scoring outputs come against crappy teams.

"But wait!" you scream.  "He is shooting 60% from the field!"  Quick question, Einstein, who is the second-leading field goal percentage shooter in leauge history?  Come on, you call yourself a Suns' fan?

That's right, my favorite playing when I was growing up -- Mark West.  58% career filed goal shooter.  Does that mean all those coaches who didn't let him take 15 shots per game were off their collective rocker?

When Shaq has the ball close to the hoop, he remains a nearly-unstoppable offensive threat who can finish and pass out of the double-team.  When he is playing tough, clogging the lane and rebounding, the Suns are competitive with anyone.  When he becomes the focal point of the offense, your team ends up in the lottery.

I sure did love The Big Roleplayer.  I wish we had him back.

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