Shaquille O’Neal Believes He Could Average 50 Points in Today’s NBA: ‘I’m Going to Punish Everybody’
Shaquille O’Neal holds the recognition as one of the NBA’s greatest players. O’Neal imposed his will behind his physicality and size that left an unmistakable imprint on the league. Those factors led the Hall of Famer to deliver a bold stance regarding how he’d fare in today’s game.
Shaquille O’Neal Illustrious NBA career
O’Neal quickly fulfilled the massive expectations when he entered the NBA, becoming an all-time great talent.
No player could match his sheer strength and size, making him a nearly impossible defensive matchup. O’Neal dominated the league for several years, earning the recognition as arguably the game’s most physically dominant player.
His dominance helped him earn four NBA titles and three NBA Finals MVP awards, receive 15 All-Star Game selections and 14 All-NBA selections, and capture a regular-season MVP award. O’Neal also received a first-ballot Hall of Fame induction while his jersey is retired with the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Orlando Magic.
All those factors guided the Hall of Fame big man to make a bold claim about how he would perform in today’s game.
Shaquille O’Neal believes he could average 50 points in today’s NBA: ‘I’m going to punish everybody’
O’Neal remains heralded as one of the most dominant players in NBA history.
The four-time NBA champion was as physically imposing as they come as his strength and sheer power created defensive nightmares. All that generated unwavering confidence in his ability even several years after his playing days.
During an interview on the Official Lakers podcast in 2018, O’Neal voiced that he believes he would average 50 points a game in today’s NBA.
“First of all, if I came up in this era, I wouldn’t shoot threes. That’s not what a big guy is supposed to do. If I played today, I’d average 50, without free throws,” Shaq said. “I’d average 50, because guys don’t play physical. They whine and they cry; I’m going to punish everybody.
“All these guys talking about shooting jump shots, you’re going to have to defend me. And you can’t defend me with three or four fouls. I’m just going to punish you. I haven’t really lost to a lot of guys that shot jumpers in my face, but I beat everybody by playing low.”
O’Neal wasn’t the most mobile player, but there simply wasn’t an answer for him defensively due to his physicality and size. During his prime with the Lakers, he averaged north of 26.0 points per contest, peaking at 29.7 points in his lone MVP campaign in the 1999-2000 season.
Since O’Neal stepped into retirement, the game has become more offensive-oriented due to the rule changes. The shift to dependency on the 3-point shot would impact his touches, but no center currently in the league could match his size and strength.
It’s hard to envision another team containing him in the low post, as he would undoubtedly be one of the league’s leading scorers. Fifty points per game is a lofty claim, but his scoring would be much higher than his highest career output.
Tracy McGrady shares the same unwavering confident
O’Neal is far from the only former star player to argue they could dominate today’s game.
The various rule changes and increased emphasis on the 3-point shot would undoubtedly allow for past greats to excel to a greater extent offensively. Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady voiced as much, stating that he’d averaged 40 points a game.
“I look at some of these high-scoring guys that are shooting a lot more threes than myself or Kobe shot back in the days—averaging probably 10 threes a game,” McGrady said on ESPN’s The Jump in October 2018. “I’ll average, easily, 35, 40 points a game. Easily. I mean I averaged 32 without even shooting that many threes… and you can’t impede my progress when I’m running?”
A fair argument could be made for other all-time greats such as Michael Jordan, Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar, and Allen Iverson. Beyond that, it’s going to remain commonplace to see NBA legends voice bold stances like O’Neal and McGrady.
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