Shaq Praises Three NBA Big Men, Dismisses Others

Shaq discusses the evolution of NBA centers on podcast.

by Faizan Chaudhary
Shaq Praises Three NBA Big Men, Dismisses Others
© Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Shaquille O’Neal, a towering figure in NBA history with 19 seasons under his belt, has always been a voice of authority when it comes to evaluating the prowess of big men in the league. Known as "Diesel" for his powerful style of play, Shaq's career is decorated with four NBA championships, three Finals MVPs, and a league MVP award in 2000, underscoring his deep understanding and mastery of the center position.

In a recent appearance on "The Draymond Green Show," hosted by Golden State Warriors All-Star Draymond Green, Shaq opened up about the current crop of NBA big men who have caught his eye. Among today's players, he singled out Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, and Victor Wembanyama as his top picks, heralding them as the torchbearers of the big man tradition in the modern NBA.

Shaq's Big Man Standards

Shaq's criteria for a true big man hinges on their ability to dominate in the paint, a nod to the traditional role of centers and power forwards. This philosophy resonates in his praise for Embiid and Jokic, both of whom combine size with exceptional skill to impact the game profoundly.

"Embiid is a blend of my own power in the post with the finesse of Hakeem Olajuwon outside. Jokic brings to mind players like Brad Daugherty and the '84 Sabonis, exhibiting a beautifully crafted game," Shaq explained during the interview.

The discussion also turned to Victor Wembanyama, the NBA's reigning Rookie of the Year, who despite his unconventional build for a big man, has impressed Shaq with his unique abilities and potential. "Wemby is different. He's got a thinner frame but does things on the court that mark him as a standout," Shaq noted, acknowledging the evolution of the center role to include diverse skill sets.

Reflecting on his own era, Shaq expressed a mix of admiration and envy for the freedom today's big men have in expanding their game beyond the paint. "I'm jealous of them. Back in my day, stepping out to hit a three was almost taboo.

I'd love to have had the chance to shoot like these guys do now," Shaq shared, half-jokingly referring to himself as the "Black Steph Curry" for his rare forays into long-range shooting during practices. O'Neal's commentary not only highlights the dynamic evolution of the big man's role in the NBA but also illustrates his ongoing passion for the game, as he watches new generations reshape the position he once redefined.

As the game continues to evolve, Shaq remains a keen observer, celebrating the blend of tradition and innovation that today's big men bring to the hardwood.