Is Shaq the best center in the west?

Maybe the better question would be: “Is Shaq the 2nd best Center in the league?”. (No question about who is #1, just look at Dwight Howard, leading the league in triple doubles, double doubles, rebounds, blocks,…)

Back to the topic: Is Shaq, at age 36, the 2nd best center in the NBA?

nba_a_shaq4

Everybody wants a part of Shaq...

He definitely looked like it when he dropped 35 points on the Bucks in December or went for 17 boards against Portland in November. Averaging 17.7 points, 9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game while turning the ball over only 1.93 times per game (career low). A career best .623 free throw shooting is just the icing on the cake, but it will probably go down again til the season is over.

Yao Ming is having a better season stats-wise at 19.5 points and nearly 10 boards per game, but stats aren’t everything. (We will come back to Yao later.) You can make a case for Camby due to his defense and good efficiency rating, but let’s be honest…that wouldn’t even be close. Gasol is playing more PF with Bynum’s return, so he falls out of the picture as well.

Nobody expected Shaq to be this good at his age, but the Big Diesel (or Shaquille-ovic, as he calls himself nowadays, because of his decent free throw shooting) is back. He is putting up his best numbers since 05-06 (check out this article from November if you want more on this one) and the Suns win more when he is on the court than they do without him. To cut a long story short: He has an efficiency rating of +21.1 (23rd in the NBA right now, in front of guys like Joe Johnson, Vince Carter, Nene, Mehmet Okur, David West, Chuncey Billups, Paul Pierce, Carmelo…you get my point).

Of the 29 games he played this year, Phoenix won 20. In wins Shaq scored 19.8 points – in loses he scored 13 points. Phoenix wasn’t blown out in most games they lost, so the 6 points difference is very big for the Suns.

I don’t want to take away anything from Yao, he is defintely more important to his team due to injuries to Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest. He has to carry his team, he is their go-to guy and he is putting up better numbers than Shaq – but that’s about it, isn’t it? Nobody but Dwight Howard and Yao Ming are better than Shaq? Well, that is some pretty good company, I guess.

Nobody expected Shaq to put up numbers like this and that is why everybody gets over their head a little, but we should give respect where respect is due. Shaq is still a top three center in the league.

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2 Responses to “Is Shaq the best center in the west?”

  1. I still think it was a stroke of genius on the part of the Suns to bench Shaquille every so often so that he doesn’t break down, resulting in a Shaq-attack resurgence. Them’s some creaky knees.

    Also, I would be remiss if I did not let you in on my undying admiration of your photoshop skillz.

  2. Thank you. 🙂

    True, I forgot to mention the part about resting him once in a while for a game or two. That is the best thing they could do and it pays off big time.

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