Shaquille O’Neal believes that Joel Embiid is ‘pretty good’, ‘really good’ at post play. But ‘dominant’? The Lakers legend wouldn’t go that far.
Post play has become a relic of past decades if we look at basketball in the early-2020s. The league has trended towards converting open mid-range looks for role players into open 3-point looks.
As a result, the bigger forwards who were too frail or small to be centers were slowly phased out. The Brandon Basses of the world have now become irrelevant, while the 3-and-D wing prototypes have become more involved.
This doesn’t mean, however, that every center in the league has now lost the art of the post-up. There remain the likes of Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns – behemoths who can’t be stopped from down low.
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Embiid, in particular, has emerged as the NBA’s preeminent post player. He ranks 5th in the league in post-up efficiency and has hundreds of more attempts from that distance than the 4 players above him.
However, Shaq doesn’t quite view him as a ‘dominant’ post player for his reasons.
“I wouldn’t use the D word for Joel Embiid”: Shaquille O’Neal
Shaq was on the Crossover Podcast with Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated for an interview this morning. Big Aristotle had a few words to say about the Sixers’ trade hoopla around Ben Simmons.
He also had a few comments regarding Embiid’s play, which was mostly positive feedback. Shaq acknowledged that it’s good thinking by Embiid to try and hone his 3-point skills. But he also wonders about its effectiveness:
“Good for him, I hope it works for him. But, you know, when you’re tagged as a great player, there’s only two lists you can be on. Good luck with that, especially when you’re playing teams that are more talented than you like Brooklyn and Milwaukee, you know. If you’re hot, it works, but if you’re not hot, what’s your go-to plan?”
Mannix went on to remark that Embiid is a dominant guy on the low post, which earned him a quick response:
“I wouldn’t use the D-word. He’s good, pretty good, really good! But I would not use the D word.”
Some of Shaq’s comments regarding Embiid’s post play definitely stem from his showings against Atlanta. Embiid did not score a field goal in the 4th quarters of 2 of their losses during the series.
It is clear that while he’s on the all-time trajectory, Embiid needs to clean up his footwork, decision-making and execution from that area to establish himself there.