A Scoutís Take on the Shaq Trade
Posted Feb 6 2008 6:09PM
At first glance, Shaquille O'Neal doesn't seem like a good fit in the Suns' uptempo, spread-the-floor offense. But does he help the Suns match up better with the other Western Conference powers? In the wake of the trade, an NBA scout gave NBA.com his take on the trade, why the Suns did it, and how Shaq could fit in.
It's kind of a befuddling trade to me, because Phoenix was playing so well.
I think that both teams have their reasons, but looking at it, Shawn Marion was a major cog in what Phoenix was doing. Did he just want to be gone that much? Was he that much of a jerk in the locker room for them to get rid of him?
I think they had a lot more problems in that locker room than other people knew. Because otherwise, you're getting rid of a guy that's an easy double-double almost every night, is a total matchup problem for everybody, can guard three spots and gets his hands on all kinds of balls to give you extra possessions.
But with Shaq being injured now, it's more of a trade for the playoffs. I think he will be big for them late in playoff games, when it comes down to possessions against teams like the Spurs or somebody that can slow them down and make them work in the halfcourt. It gives them another big guy in the middle who can demand a double-team. You put the shooters on the floor, throw it in there, and let him go to work himself or kick it out for an open shot.
I think that they sat there and said, "Hey, we've had some injuries, but for the last three years, we haven't been able to get over that hump."
I think this will reinvigorate Shaq. I think he'll get himself in shape and get himself healthy. I think they're just looking for him to be full-go by April. For one month, he can be an absolute monster. And especially in a playoff series, he's still one of the biggest matchup problems in the league.
Steve Nash isn't getting any younger and their window is closing. I think a lot of windows are closing in the West, so to speak. So, if they can find that energy in Shaq for 28 games, then I think they made a good move. It basically tells you that, when they look at themselves, they feel they do not match up well with San Antonio, New Orleans and the Lakers. Shaq can generate fouls, get the other team in the penalty quicker, get you playing against backups, and all that.
Shaq in the Suns' Offense
The Suns really don't use the low post much, but they always run their through-action in their early offense. And I think when they run that through now, they'll put Shaq down on the strong-side block. And when Nash hits the wing and cuts through, they'll have him down low and see if they can't create for him out of that. Then, I think they'll have something where they put him in there, turn him out and spread the floor.
With Shaq and Amare Stoudemire on the floor together, you're losing a shooter (although Amare's shooting has improved greatly over the last couple of years). But you're probably looking at 20-some minutes a game for Shaq, and you're just going to have to play different for that time. when they're playing teams like Golden State, running up and down, then I think they're gonna be in a little bit of trouble.
Where Shaq will help them is in the playoffs, when they run into teams like Utah that has Carlos Boozer and those guys, Houston with Yao Ming, or San Antonio. Not that he's necessarily going to guard Tim Duncan, but he's another presence in there. He gives them a little bit of something that they didn't have before.
And it probably speaks volumes of what they think Grant Hill has done. Now they feel that he can play that three spot and do the things that Shawn did.
Defensively, what they'll do is have Shaq play a lot of center field where he stays low on the pick-and-roll. Or they'll have to change it to where they force the ball-handler away from the screen, and let Shaq just stay on that block.
For Miami, Marcus Banks gives them another point guard. And they can evaluate Marion. If he comes in and does some things, great. If not, then they have that cap space to do some things that they want. I also think that Miami knew they were a ways away and that they weren't going to do anything with Shaq. So they decided to get what they could right now. They could probably get something for Shaq in the final year of his deal, but this lets them get a head start on doing what they want to do. And I think they got a good piece in Marion.
I think it alleviates problems on both sides.