During the summer of 2010, big name free agents such as LeBron James, Chris Bosh and A'mare Stoudemire changed zip codes and jerseys this summer, in the highly anticipated free agent bonanza of 2010. One move that hasn't been spotlighted as much as those high profile free agents re-locations is the signing of Shaquille O'Neal to the Boston Celtics.
The 38 year-old, future hall-of-famer, and four-time NBA champion has found a new home in bean town and he'll help improve the Celtics in more areas than one. I've heard a lot of people say that Shaq will hurt the Celtics because he's old and slow, but nothing could be further from the truth. Even at Shaq's age, who can defend him in the post one-on-one?, And him being "slow," as people say, won't hurt the Celtics at all.
Shaq never fit in Phoenix because Phoenix is a team that thrives on fast break points: their offense relies a lot on running the floor and scoring in transition. The Suns are an up-tempo, run-and-gun team; with Shaq in Phoenix, they were forced to tone down their play and learn how to operate in a half court set on both ends of the floor. Needless to say, that didn't work out too well for them.
There's no way Shaq can disrupt the Celtics' style of play. They can play either tempo of basketball and can operate in a half court set on both offense and especially defense. All in all, the acquisition of Shaq means nothing but good things for the Celtics. Here are the areas in which Shaq will help the C's:
Last season, the Celtics were one of the league's worst rebounding teams (they were dead last in offensive rebounding). With Shaq's size and presence down low, rebounding will now be increased (even if by a minimal amount) on both backboards.
Low Post Scoring
Last season, aside from Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace, the Celtics had no low post presence on the offensive end of the floor. Now, with Shaq in the mix, the Celtics' points in the paint will increase and Rondo has another weapon in his arsenal on the offensive end.
Ability To Draw Double Teams
Even at Shaq's age, there isn't anyone in the league who can stick him one-on-one down low on the block. With Shaq's size and post game, he'll draw a lot of double teams; and with him being a great passer, it'll open up more opportunities for Kevin Garnett and other teammates.
Ability To Draw Fouls
With Shaq's size, he'll draw a lot of fouls through contact from single coverage or double teams, the more fouls Shaq draws, the earlier opposing teams will get into the penalty and the more players like Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo will be able to attack the basket and establish a rhythm from the free throw line.
Another Body That Can Defend Dwight Howard
With Shaq on the bench (when Perkins returns from injury), the Celtics will have another center who can defend Dwight Howard well. Now Perkins can defend Dwight Howard with even more physicality and not have to worry about foul trouble.(The Celtics can even throw Jermaine O'Neal at Dwight Howard and make him use his six fouls to force Howard to beat them at the line, Jermaine O'Neal defends Howard well also)
I'm excited for this upcoming season, it's going to be a joy to watch a Celtics' front court that boasts Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O'Neal. The only problem I see the Celtics having in terms of the acquisition of Shaq is how Doc Rivers is going to divide up minutes for his front court players come playoff time.
I know Shaq will be the first off the bench, but who will get minutes between Glen Davis and Jermaine O'Neal? the Celtics need Glen Davis' energy, passion, hustle and play, but keeping Jermaine O'Neal on the bench would be a waste of the mid-level exception; Doc Rivers has a interesting quandary on his hands, but he'll have plenty of time to figure it out in the upcoming season.