Well, the numbers do say Shaq is doing something bad to Cleveland’s offense.
According to 82games.com, the Cleveland offense is more than eight points per 48 minutes worse when Shaq is on the floor. What in particular is the problem? Well, Cleveland’s shooting is worse with Shaq playing (even though Shaq tends to be a high-efficiency player) and the team’s offensive rebounding is worse. The biggest deal, though, might be in drawing fouls: the Cavs average four free throws per 48 minutes fewer with Shaq on the court. Of course, a huge part of LeBron’s game is drawing fouls — Shaq seems to hamper that part of the offense, according to the numbers.
Ziller confirms what we all essentially know, which is that Shaquille O’Neal, who killed Phoenix’s offense, is killing Cleveland’s offense. Amazing. After all, this was a guy who played “like an All-Star last season.” It leads to an examination of what role plus/minus should have on the All-Star voting. If you don’t dig metrics, that’s fine, but you should look at what a player does to his team in whole. After all, Steve Kerr right now is singing “THANK YOU, DANNY, THANK YOU SO MUCH!” while his team streaks back into top-three-seed contention by just going back to what they were doing before he showed up.
If you want a huge conundrum? What do you do with Z here? I mean, if this trend continues and Shaq keeps hurting the club, you need Z.Â But if you want to acquire a player to compensate for Shaq’s damage, you need to move Z. So what do you do? Do you risk decimating your depth and a player that fits into your offense and has been around FOR-EV-ER? Or do you cash in your chip to try and compensate for the $20 million investment you made that’s struggling to integrate? Too early to pull the trigger, but the next two months are going to be interesting stuff to track.