Shaq As The Second Best Player of The Decade, Numbers Say No

Steven ResnickSenior Writer IOctober 9, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 26:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers guards Shaquille O'Neal #32 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at Staples Center February 26, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

There are arguments in regards to Shaq for being the second best player of this past decade. He definitely has the individual awards and recognition as well as the four championship rings as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers for three and the Miami Heat for one.

For the decade his numbers look like this:

22.6 points per game, 10.4 rebounds per game, 2.6 assists per game, and 2.1 blocks pe game.

Shooting wise he was at 58.8 percent from the field and from the free throw line 51.5 percent from the free throw line.

Playoffs wise:

20.9 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game, 2.1 assists, and 1.5 blocks.

Shooting wise he's at 49.5 percent from the field and from the line he's at 43.6 percent from the line.

Looking at the awards and recognitions Shaq has: One MVP and three Finals MVPs. Seven first team All-NBA selections, one Third Team All-NBA selection, and three Second Team All-Defense selection. 

Shaq has also been in the top 10 in rebounding three times with his best finish coming in second. Six times Shaq has finished in the top 10 in blocks with his best coming in third. 

The numbers are there certainly for Shaq, but the problem is that he became injury proned so he didn't appear in very many games as he did in the first part of the decade.

Since 2004-2005 Shaq has missed at least 21 games. It also shows since the start of the 2003-2004 season Shaq's overall numbers have been declining. He went from a high 20 point per game scorer to where he's at now not even averaging 20 points per game or double digits in rebounding.  

You also look at the All-NBA selections there for each position in the NBA, so there's one for the point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center.

Really, when we talk about centers in this day in age there's really not a true center in the league. Most of them are extremely athletic and earlier in Shaq's career would have been considered power forwards, not centers and it seems more and more today that power forwards are playing center.

That's why you see a lot of the big men today be considered as power forwards/centers. Amare Stoudemire is a perfect example he is not a center, he's a power foward but in the system he plays in he's considered the Phoenix Suns center.

So, it's not really hard to see why Shaq who came into the league when Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutumbo, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, etc....Were around the game was much different.

As I mentioned there's very few centers in the league today. So, when looking at All-NBA selections for the first team it's not hard to understand why when pretty much nearly the only true center in the league is averaging a double double and blocking a couple of shots a game, it's going to go to Shaq because there's no one else averaging anything near what Shaq had been averaging.

Dwight Howard has pretty much taken over the roll as a center and even with his build you could argue that he's really a power forward playing center.

The MVP award is nice for Shaq, but even with that it still ties him with the likes of Garnett who I have as the second best player of this decade.

Why, some fans will say that Shaq would make the number two of the decade would be because of the NBA Finals MVPs that Shaq has, but in reality it means that Shaq was a member of a more talented team.