Monday, June 12, 2006

Erick Dampier outplayed Shaq

Shaq: 28 min, 2-5 fgm-a, 1-7 ftm-a, 6 reb, 5 pts.
Dampier: 29 min, 2-3 fgm-a, 2-3 ftm-a, 13 reb, 6 pts.

Dampier outplayed Shaq. I just had to type that again. When I predicted the Heat to win, I mistakenly thought that Shaq wasn't washed up. I had forgotten how bad the Eastern Conference was compared to the West. I convinced myself that Detroit was still a good team and was impressed with what Shaq did against the Piston defense. After watching the Mavs handle Shaq, Detroit may not want to re-sign Ben Wallace.

What other Western teams would beat the Heat in the finals? Definitely the Spurs, Suns, and Clippers and possibly even the Lakers. Miami has become a one-man team: Dwyane Wade and a bunch of washed up players.

A Celtic-centric aside: if I'm an Eastern team, I go all out to win next year. Trade a prospect for a sure thing because the East is weak now, but LeBron and Wade will have a stronger supporting cast in the next few years (if they choose to stay -- Bill Simmons argued that it would be dumb for Wade to stay with the Heat who will be in salary cap hell soon). The East is wide open next year and I won't be surprised if a team that didn't make the playoffs went on to lose to a Western team in next year's finals.

Back to Shaq: Eric Dampier outplayed Shaq. I'm afraid typing that might freeze my computer. Shaq apologists are trying to blame his teammates for not getting him the ball. I'm not buying it. A younger active Shaq would get more than enough shots even if he were playing with four Kobesque ball hogs.

Even if you want to blame Shaq's teammates, how do you explain his rebounding numbers? Six rebounds is not an acceptable number for someone as big as Shaq. This leads me to my biggest criticism of Shaq: his best year rebounding was his rookie season (stats here). I'm under the impression that the greatest players to play the game improved overtime. Shaq did get better at scoring, but rebounding is kind of important for big men.

Shaq's lack of improvement in rebounding tells me he didn't get in better shape over offseasons, he didn't work on rebounding and position techniques, and worst of all: he didn't improve his effort. You can't say the same about Jordan, Magic, Bird, Russell, or Chamberlin and that's why Shaq doesn't belong in that group.

By the way, Erick Dampier outplayed Shaq.


Patriotsy2k said...

Remember that Shaq got into really good shape - as much as Shaquille O'Neill can get into - in the 2nd half of the season. Riley told him to drop some weight or be deactivated. What other coach - besides Phil Jackson - could tell Shaquille this?
He looked like a possessed man in the Detroit series. I wonder how he will rebound in game 3, at home.

Alan said...

Seeing Shaq's flaws exposed and Kobe's struggles during Jackson's hiatus has made me appreciate Phil Jackson's coaching.

I'm starting to wonder if the Shaq and Kobe's Lakers would have ever won without Phil Jackson. Sounds like I'll have to bring back another "What if" segment.