The career of Shaquille O’Neal using Marginal Win Score

The Diesel has finally puttered out. His career ended more like Kareem’s than Wilt’s or Bill Russell’s. The latter two were still dominant in their final seasons, albeit less than their peak dominance.  Shaq and Jabbar each hung around too long.  Here is the career of the Diesel viewed through the prism of Marginal Win Score (Glossary).

1992-93 18.18 9.12 4.53 1.271 15.8__(-3.2) 9.5 25.3
1993-94 20.23 8.69 5.77 1.481 19.8__(-6.4) 13.1 32.9
1994-95 18.69 8.68 5.01 1.352 16.2__(-4.2) 10.2 26.4
1995-96 16.25 9.12 3.57 1.108 9.0__(-0.9) 4.9 13.9
1996-97 17.51 8.67 3.66 1.125 9.0__(-1.0) 5.1 14.1
1997-98 17.74 8.06 4.42 1.252 11.3__(-2.3) 6.9 18.2
1998-99 17.31 7.81 4.75 1.308 9.3__(-2.2) 5.8 15.1
1999-2000 19.73 7.32 6.19 1.555 20.4__(-7.1) 13.8 34.2
2000-01 18.02 8.99 4.51 1.268 15.2__(-3.2) 9.2 24.4
2002-03 17.42 7.52 4.95 1.342 14.1__(-3.6) 8.8 20.9
2003-04 16.17 7.53 4.32 1.223 12.6__(-2.3) 7.4 19.9
2004-05 16.16 7.28 4.44 1.251 13.0__(-2.6) 7.8 21.8
2005-06 14.22 5.88 4.17 1.199 9.0__(-1.5) 5.2 14.2
2006-07 11.37 9.37 1.01 0.659 3.1__1.6 0.7 3.8
2007-08 13.34 9.91 1.72 0.794 5.8__1.5 2.1 7.9
2008-09 15.73 12.09 1.82 0.817 7.6__2.8 2.4 9.9
2009-10 12.08 10.54 0.77 0.633 3.3__1.8 0.8 4.1
2010-11 11.93 7.43 2.25 0.881 2.7__0.4 1.2 3.9
TOTALS 16.29 8.53 3.78 1.142 207.9__(-25.9) 121.8 329.7

Where does that chart rank Shaq among the all-time pantheon of NBA players?  Its up there. Shaq was certainly an elite win producer in his prime. One publication I read went so far as to rank him the greatest player of all time. I can’t concur.

While Shaq was certainly a dominant force in his early seasons to middle seasons, he did not dominate his era in the same way that Wilt or Bill Russell dominated theirs. (My numbers on Wilt and Bill are preliminary, but go to the 1960s Win Charts on the “Pages” part of this blog to compare some of their single seasons to Shaqs). The greatest win producer of all-time, if I can parse a portion of a player’s career, was Wilt in Philly (with the Sixers, not the Warriors). That was a three year tour de force that will never be matched.  (Remember, I’m speaking always in context. When I say that Wilt in Philly was the greatest I mean he dominated HIS particular competition to a degree unsurpassed by any other player and HIS particular competition. How Shaq would have done in the 1960s, or Wilt in the 1990s, I cannot say. That’s just barroom speculation.) 

So Shaq was great but not greater than the big two. And while you could say he was more dominant over a longer stretch than Jabbar, you must also note that Shaq never had a season to match Kareem’s 1972 campaign with the Bucks. (In 1971-72, Kareem posted a Value score of 38.8.).

Shaq’s problem was what Coach Mike McCarthy would call “availability”. Shaq was often injured, especially late in his career.  That diminished his value.

But the bottom line is that yesterday the NBA lost an all-time great. I don’t think that’s even debatable.

END NOTE: Kareem stands up for Wilt

While Kareem Abdul-Jabbar desperately needs a course in public relations, I was genuinely moved by his defense of Wilt Chamberlain as the greatest player of all time. And while his reasoning was suspect (who cares about his gimmicky 100 point game?? That isn’t persuasive in the least. It was a complete farce), I think Kareem’s case is sound. I think Wilt, during his Philly Sixer years, was indeed the greatest win machine this game has ever seen.

The reason Kareem’s advocacy moved me is because so many players have taken gratuitous pot shots at Chamberlain over the years (Rick Barry called him “a loser”, and he would qualify as an expert in that field.)

Besides that, Kareem and Wilt were contemporary rivals, and, to my recollection, Wilt was never that generous with praise toward Kareem. So it showed a bit of magnanimity on Kareem’s part to take a stand in support of the late, and often beleaguered Chamberlain. Kareem really had nothing to gain by doing so.

Now, if he could just mix in a little tact…

One Response to “The career of Shaquille O’Neal using Marginal Win Score”

  1. Chicago Tim Says:

    Shaq never won a rebounding title. His prime was dominated by rebounding specialists — Rodman, Wallace, Mutumbo — but I don’t think Shaq can be put on the same level as the greatest big men of all time if he couldn’t win rebounding titles.

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