Shaquille O’Neal thinks centers shouldn’t shoot threes
Los Angeles Lakers icon Shaquille O’Neal is one of the most dominant big men in the history of the NBA. Shaq was the prototypical big man for his era, using his size to exert his will on defenders and give opposing coaches nightmares.
Today, big men are encouraged to step out from beyond the arc and knock down threes if they can. Would Shaq join them? According to Lloyd Johnson of Express, he wouldn’t:
“First of all, if I came up in this era, I wouldn’t shoot threes. That’s not what a big guy is supposed to do…All these guys talking about shooting jump shots, you’re going to have to defend me. And you can’t defend me with three or four fouls. I’m just going to punish you.
“I haven’t really lost to a lot of guys that shot jumpers in my face, but I beat everybody by playing low.”
The game has changed since O’Neal’s retirement. Schemes evolved with the implementation of zone defenses and zone principles in man-to-man defenses. With defenders able to shade help off the ball, entry passes simply take too long with too little payoff to make a viable staple of most offenses. Instead, big men are encouraged to step out to the perimeter to space the floor or are otherwise limited to setting high screens and diving hard to the rim.
Players without jumpers are seen as liabilities.
But players like Shaq are exceptions to every rule. Physically, he would be too overwhelming for a smaller, leaner NBA to handle and his basketball IQ, quick feet, and instincts have always been underrated. Sure, most big men must be able to hit jumpers to survive in the NBA. But Shaq in any era is not most big men.