First of all I recommend everyone go ahead and watch the East v. West All-American game yesterday on ESPN3 replay. Shaq was on the West Squad with the Harrison twins going up against an absolutely stacked East squad that had Nerlens coming off the bench. Some thoughts on Shaq below and then a quick take on Stoglin and Howard that will not be popular.
-Absolutely unstoppable rebounder in his area---uses his hips to get low and box out and then explodes up and shows good strong hands.
-Impressed me with his ability to get up and down the court. Sure it was an all-star game and there was a lot of walking around, but at times the intensity picked up and that was when he was at his finest. At one point the fast break blew by him and i figured he was out of the play, but he appeared out of nowhere to grab a missed lay up and then quickly outletted into a fast break the other way that ended up in 2.
-Absolutely SHOCKED Me with a nice, face up 18 foot jumper when the D had backed up off of him.
- Perhaps his biggest, and most immediate impact will be that he sets amazing screens. The type of screens that will cause people to double stoglin coming off of them. This leads nicely into the next point in that he also seemed to know to roll into open space after he set the screen.
-showed off some nice interior passing skills. After rolling off of a screen he got open for a second and appeared poised to go to the hoop. However, a mr. Noel Nerlens had him in his sight and was going to send Shaq packing---instead of going up and getting rejected shaq simply passed it off (in tight space) to his fellow big for an easy douce. Given that Len is also a good interior passer---and an amazing finisher---this is exciting.
-Did not show any ability to get solid position on the blocks. He struggled to get in solid post up position and seemed at times to be out of the flow of the offense. That could be more of a product of an all-star game than anything else, but it was fairly evident on the few occasions that they were looking to shaq in the post that he wasn't really adept at making himself available in good position against elite defenders.
- He is a foul machine. He really struggles to challenge guards on the drive without fouling them. See below for why.
-He needs to lose 15 pounds and improve his lateral quickness and endurance.
Overall: I was pleasently surprised seeing as this is my first time watching Shaq.
Prediction: Tough based on an all-star game but I see him giving us a solid 20 minutes a game---he will struggle with conditioning and with foul trouble however. Come his sophomore year, if he improves his conditioning and learns how to post up in a way that makes him available against elite defenders, i could see him being a totally dominant force. In fact I could see him being a totally dominant force by the end of next year if all the right things happen.
Now for two quick thoughts on Stogs and Pe:
Stogs: He is not a PG in my opinion and I do not believe that Mark Turgeon has any desire to play him at PG. I want him off the ball where he can come off of screens, catch and shoot, and catch and slash. I don't want him on the ball where he runs up the court and chucks a shot up before we even get into the offense. And I don't really want him focused on trying to be our main distributor. I want him focused on what he does best---scoring. I just want him to do it within the offense and off the ball.
Pe: I think he is perhaps the player that fans are being most delusional about in penciling into the starting line up:
1. He's coming off of a SERIOUS, SERIOUS injury and what (if anything) he has left atheletically is completely up in the air.
2. Even when he was healthy, he was not the type of difference maker that we need. Were we undeniably better with him--of course. However, it's also undeniable that we need to be better than what he brought to the table this year. He's not really a pure PG, he struggled on D, and he didn't really show any ability to put the ball int he basket this year. So even if health is not an issue, he has to seriously raise his game. He was more of a back-up ACC PG this year when healthy.