One of the talking points out of the Suns camp over the last few days of the season was about improving the pick and roll defense with active, mobile big men. All indications point to Shaq wanting to be that man.
Steve Kerr said last week, "One of the things you have to do in this league is you have to have active big guys. There's a reason Boston was so good defensively...Those guys jump out on pick and rolls, they trap, they recover and protect the rim...We're trying to get more mobile on the interior."
Trying to get more mobile on the interior? That can only mean two things. Amare getting better at what he already has the physical ability to do and/or Shaq getting more physically able to be more mobile.
Shaq has talked a lot about his diet this season and if you haven't noticed has already looked slimmer towards the end of the year then he did at the beginning.
In the last two meaningless Suns games of the season we even saw Shaq jumping out on the pick and rolls and switching screens. In other words, trying to be the change the Suns seek.
I am kicking myself for not asking Coach Gentry about it when I had the chance, but my game notes and Tivo confirm Shaq doing something we haven't seen all season long.
The story gets a little more interesting when you factor in this quote from Suns reserve forward Jared Dudley. I was talking to Jared after his official end of season exit interview when he said this in response to a question about how the Suns can get better.
"Shaq, he was telling me that he was trying to change his body. I think that if Shaq lost 15 or 20 pounds, you know he's already dominating and he told me he wants to lean up. I think that's only going to make him faster and injury-free."
Here's the video from Shaq that Amy linked to where Shaq talked about becoming a "super model":
Maybe Shaq really is on a quest to be America's Next Top Model, but my money is on him trying to drop below 300 lbs so he can increase his mobility, stamina and health.
With the development of Robin Lopez, Shaq can afford to use more energy on the defensive end knowning that he won't be called on to delivery big minutes every night.