A Reddit handle named u/IshSmithsonian put forth a crazy stat that shows how historically bad Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal was at free throws.
The Lakers legend is one of the first names you think of when talking about dominant athletes. At his peak, Shaq was a 7’1″, 330 pound wrecking ball who you could only stop by fouling him. Through 15 Finals games played over 3 series, Shaq averaged an ungodly 36 points and 15 rebounds.
Quite simply, there was no way of stopping him. When Shaq decided he wanted to give a s**t, it was game over for the rest of the league. The Lakers’ 2001 playoff run, in which they swept David Robinson and Tim Duncan’s Spurs, provides ample proof of this.
Shaq if he could hit half his free throws he woulda average 40 https://t.co/eNcfBgP0Gz
— tae (@1btae21) October 4, 2020
The Shaquille O’Neal stat that will blow your mind
In the 2000-01 season, the Lakers were the worst free throw shooting team in the league. They attempted an average of 28.5 free throws per game, making only 68.3% of them (19.4).
However, when you remove Shaq’s whopping 13.1 free throw attempts per game (he made 6.7 of them), you get a team that’s doing great from the line. The Lakers without Shaq were making 13.7 of their 15.4 attempts – an 88.9% figure. This would have led the league by a margin of over 9%.
In fact, Shaq taking roughly half the Lakers’ free throws was by opponent teams’ design. Whenever the Lakers seemed to go on a run and threatened to run away with the game, they’d take to fouling Shaq and sending him to the line. The Hack-a-Shaq strategy conceived by Greg Popovich worked in limited bursts.
Shaq changed teams’ scouting tactics so fundamentally that it was hilarious. Teams would literally stock up on unathletic 7-footers at the end of their bench so they could get them to take fouls. Often, they couldn’t even stop Shaq getting an and-one. For all the noise he now makes as a studio analyst against big men like Rudy or Dwight, they aren’t worthy of tying his laces.