Shaquille O’Neal is undoubtedly one of the most dominant centers in the league’s history. It is an enormous compliment for anyone to be compared to this legend – especially within 3 years of entering the leaguem and that too coming from Shaq’s former teammate.
DeAndre Ayton, who was the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, had a powerful display in the playoffs last season. So much so, that he helped his team reach the NBA Finals for the first time in 28 years.
Considering his contribution to the team’s campaign last season, Shaq’s former teammate from Orlando Magic recently made a bold comparison between Shaq and Ayton.
Deandre Ayton mirrors Shaq in Orlando says Nick Anderson: “I would say DeAndre Ayton. The only thing is that I would like to see DeAndre Ayton be more aggressive. Don’t be tentative. When Shaq got that ball on the post, all hell would break loose.”
— Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson (@ScoopB) October 14, 2021
Nick Anderson on how DeAndre Ayton is like Shaquille O’Neal
For Ayton, this is a compliment like no other. O’Neal is a legend in the same position in which Ayton plays. And similar to Shaq, Ayton also needs to eventually add some aggression to his game. In Orlando, Shaquille was more athletic but they dominantly maximized his aggression on the post in his time at the Lakers.
While he was the scoring champion in the league in 1994-95, he averaged his career-high in points through a season at the Lakers in 2000. So, Anderson is not wrong to say that Ayton needs to add more aggression to his game. Adding some build and confidence in posting up should help Ayton improve his game.
ORLANDO, FL – 1993: Shaquille O’Neal #32 of the Orlando Magic poses with Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls. Shot prior to them playing an NBA game in 1993 at the TD Waterhouse Centre in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
On the court comparison between Ayton and Shaq
Ayton spent most of the 2019-20 season on the bench. While he does not have an offensive skill-set on the post, he does have one advantage though – he can make his free throws.
Shaquille O’Neal’s weaknesses were limited in the game. However, they were very evident and could be used against him in some cases. Shaq’s two primary weaknesses were shooting from beyond the 3 point line and the free-throw line.
PHOENIX – DECEMBER 21: Shaquille O’Neal #33 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots a free throw shot during the NBA game against of the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on December 21, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Cavaliers defeated the Suns 109-91. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
His inability to convert from the free-throw line gave birth to the famous “Hack-a-Shaq” defense followed by his opponents. Therefore, if Ayton adds aggression to his game at the post, who knows, he could even surpass Shaquille O’Neal someday.
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