South By Southwest Interactive Festival - Day 4

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Former NBA great Vlade Divac had a successful and storied NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings, but he has a peculiar take on Shaq. He couldn’t be more wrong.

Divac spent a good part of the ’90s and ’00s battling with Shaquille O’Neal for superiority in the western conference.

Shaq, former Magic, Lakers, Heat, Suns, Cavs and Celtics player, got the best of Divac on many occasions, which is why his comments on “the Big Arsitotle’s” skill set were surprising.

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The big Serbian, who currently works for the Kings organization, stated in an interview with the AP, ”I’ve been in basketball a long, long time and I have to say [DeMarcus Cousins is] the most talented big guy I have ever seen.”
”Shaq wasn’t talented, he was just strong. I was talented, but I wasn’t strong,” he added.

While the comments weren’t meant to be malicious, they were most definitely wrong.

I’m only focusing on the assists statistics because strength does not make or break good passing on the court, which Shaq excelled at.

Shaq, a big man with vision

Shaq, a minority owner of the Kings, was a monster on the court, not just because of his scoring and strength, but because of his vision on the court.

O’Neal averaged nearly 24 points, 11 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in the regular season during his 19 year career.

His assist total is quite impressive for a guy whose job was to score.

Shaq’s 2.5 assist per game stack up favorably against former and current NBA centers. For example, Cousins averages just 0.1 most assists per game in the regular season, but his career is only in his fifth NBA season and his numbers could drop.

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When you compare “Shaq Diesel’s” assists totals to a current all-around stat monster Joakim Noah, there is only a 0.9 difference in assist totals in favor of the Bulls center, but his scoring averages are way below that of Shaq’s. Noah only averages about 10 points a game.

Big men like Divac or Bill Walton averaged more assists per game, but they were not nearly as effective (points and shooting percentage) scoring the basketball.

The only center that can truly outshine O’Neal was another former Laker, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The truth is if the only guy in the conversation is Kareem, you are pretty damn good.

Shaq Diesel was a one-of-a-kind center with power, grace and vision. While everyone is entitled to an opinion, Divac was wrong in his assessment.

Now, had he said that Shaq can’t shoot free throws, that’s another story all-together.

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