Phoenix Suns: Shaquille O'Neal Will Lead the Way

Chris ChanCorrespondent IFebruary 10, 2008

By now you’ve heard all the negativity about Shaquille O'Neal going to the Phoenix Suns.

He’s too slow for the Suns’ offense.

His hip gives him problems.

He’s going on 36.

But were the Suns really going to win a championship with Amare Stoudemire at center and Shawn Marion at power forward? 

Try matching that up against Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki and Erick Dampier, San Antonio’s Tim Duncan and Francisco Elson, or even the Lakers’ Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, and newly-acquired Pau Gasol. 

Suns general manager Steve Kerr should be praised for his risky move.  He not only matched the “big” Lakers deal, but one-upped them.  Shaq gives the Suns another big body for opponents to worry about. 

If Stoudemire puts up All-Star stats playing out of position, can you imagine what numbers he’ll put up at his normal power forward spot?

Now let’s talk offense. 

The main reason the Suns have popularized the run and gun system is because of the size mismatch they had.  Stoudemire was the only starter above 6’8. 

The only way to win games is to score more, and that meant pushing the ball.  They were often quicker, so the strategy worked perfectly. 

It also required Steve Nash to take extra dribbles, often all over the court, to get Amare open for a dunk or to the three-point line.  Now Nash only has to make one entry pass to Shaq which reduces his fatigue. 

In case you forgot, Nash is only two years younger than Shaq.

And defense—the Suns play defense?  They do now. 

With a seven-foot frame in the middle not named Amare Stoudemire, the Suns will play some defense.  Shaq’s mere reputation and size is enough to alter shots and allow the Suns to gamble more in this aspect of the game (Merry Christmas, Raja Bell).

To top it all off, Shaq brings the intangibles. 

He currently is one of the few people in the Suns’ organization, along with GM Steve Kerr, to win a NBA championship.  He brings his leadership and experience to the locker room. 

And don’t forget about his police badge and undercover duties.