Cover Image for “Deandre Ayton is like Shaquille O’Neal on the Orlando Magic”: Former Shaq teammate makes bold claim on the Suns center amidst stalled contract talks

“Deandre Ayton is like Shaquille O’Neal on the Orlando Magic”: Former Shaq teammate makes bold claim on the Suns center amidst stalled contract talks

Samir Mehdi
|Thu Oct 14 2021

Nick Anderson believes Deandre Ayton is a close approximate to what Shaquille O’Neal was when with the Orlando Magic. 

Deandre Ayton turned several heads this past Playoffs when he transformed his game into essentially, everything the Phoenix Suns hoped he would become. Sure, it was assumed that he would develop his shot a bit more but nonetheless, Ayton has become the ‘dirty-work’ guy who’s an incredible vertical spacer with elite defense. 

There isn’t much to ask from a championship caliber center than the attributes that were just mentioned. The Phoenix Suns after all, were merely 2 wins away from claiming the 2021 NBA championship. Those two victories would have perhaps forced Robert Sarver’s hand into signing Deandre Ayton to a max deal this offseason.

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With the Suns hoping to replicate a similar amount of success this upcoming season, a former teammate of Shaquille O’Neal’s has come out with an extremely bold statement about Ayton. 

Nick Anderson believes Deandre Ayton is like Shaq on the Orlando Magic. 

It’s interesting to see that the two guys who went up against one another this previous NBA Finals, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Deandre Ayton, are being compared to Shaquille O’Neal. The former comparison is perhaps a bit more accurate in terms of dominance however. 

Nevertheless, Nick Anderson, who played alongside Shaq during all four of his seasons with the Magic, has recently come out and said Ayton is close to what Shaq was when on the Orlando Magic.

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“I would say Deandre Ayton. The only thing that I would like to see Deandre Ayton do is be more aggressive. Don’t be tentative. When Shaq got that ball on the post, all hell would break loose.” 

Getting compared to this hyper athletic version of Shaquille O’Neal is quite the serious compliment. Though it isn’t all too accurate as the Magic legend was much more dominant on the offensive end of the floor and a bit less potent on the defensive end, it doesn’t mean that Deandre can’t reach that level. He certainly has the athleticism and strength for it. 

About the author
Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi

Covering everything from Wilt Chamberlain's offensive goaltending games in 1962 to Ja Morant's points in the paint absurdity in 2022.

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