- Shaquille O’Neal said from the NBA’s All-Star Weekend on Thursday that if he played in the NBA today, he would average 40 points per game and play like Giannis Antetokounmpo.
- While O’Neal was a dominant low-post player during his time, in today’s faster-paced, more free-flowing game, he believes he could bring the ball up, drive to the hoop, or kick it out to guards.
- O’Neal said he wouldn’t change his game to start shooting jump shots because when other big men shoot jumpers, he believes it’s a sign they don’t like physical contact, which he would use to his advantage.
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Shaquille O’Neal believes he would be even more dominant if he played in the NBA today.
O’Neal, of course, was one of the most dominant big men the game has ever seen, but he believes in the faster, more free-flowing NBA of today, he would be unstoppable. He likened his game to Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“I’d have been a center,” O’Neal said on Thursday before a taping of TNT’s “Inside the NBA” from the NBA’s All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. “I would have been the ‘Greek Freak’. A guy that can dribble, can handle, can go to the hole with force, do that, kick it to guards.”
He added: “I tried to do that … but my coaches wasn’t having it.”
When asked what he would average if he played today, he said 40 points per game.
“Without the free throws.”
O’Neal was a nearly unstoppable force in the low post, and in some ways, was the last of his kind. The NBA changed defensive rules to improve the flow of the game, which many at the time considered a direct result of O’Neal’s offensive dominance.
But in a league where teams are playing faster, with more space because of three-point shooting, and with the freedom-of-movement rules that prevent off-ball contact, O’Neal believes he could play Antetokounmpo. The Milwaukee Bucks’ All-Star forward is perhaps the most dominant player going to the rim thanks to his size, length, and athleticism. He doesn’t often shoot from the outside, but opponents are yet to find a way to prevent him from getting to the rim.
O’Neal added that he wouldn’t follow the steps of today’s big men and shoot from the outside.
“I wouldn’t change my game because everyone else is shooting jumpers,” he said. “I would still do what I do, and I would punish the bigs.
“When bigs shoot jumpers, that just tells me that they don’t like the physical contact. I would definitely take advantage of that.”
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