B.J. Armstrong says that since Shaquille O’Neal was much more dominant than Zion Williamson on the defensive end, the comparisons are not accurate.
After being sidelined for months in his rookie season, Zion Williamson burst onto the scene, showcasing his ability to absolutely dominate down-low in the paint. Labelled a ‘physical specimen’, Zion did not really have an accurate player comp when entering the NBA.
When combining his playstyle with his build, perhaps the only two players that come to mind that are now Hall of Famers are Shaq and Charles Barkley.
Zion is however, much faster than those two. He also has a considerably better handle and his passing vision when bringing the ball down the court is nothing short of spectacular. The ‘Point Zion’ era of the New Orleans Pelicans offense is officially underway and has more or less been a success.
His new and improved role as a ball handler in the half court does not take away from the fact that he stills puts up absurd stats like 35 points on 14-18 shooting from the field, on a nightly basis.
Zion Williamson leads the NBA by averaging 19.7 points per game in the paint.
The last player to average more than that was Shaq in 2001-02 pic.twitter.com/QuSEcyeYtR
— Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) April 10, 2021
These are the stats that make people draw comparisons between Zion Williamson, and Shaquille O’Neal; something B.J. Armstrong doesn’t seem to appreciate.
B.J. Armstrong does not agree with the Shaquille O’Neal – Zion Williamson comparisons
Having played multiple games against Shaquille O’Neal as a member of the Chicago Bulls, including getting matched up against his Orlando Magic in the Playoffs, B.J. Armstrong knows a thing or two about what Shaq brings to the table.
“You’re talking about Shaquille O’Neal, right? We’re talking about Shaq Diesel. Zion is putting up historical numbers. You look at the stats, he’s averaging roughly 27 points on 61% shooting from the field. No one’s done that in the history of the NBA, especially at his age.”
“No one in the modern NBA has had the impact that Shaquille O’Neal has had. Now Zion is putting up numbers on the offensive end. But Zion is not dominating the game on the defensive end.”
“He’s dominating the game at rim protection. You couldn’t double team Shaq with a guard. The only player I can compare Zion Williamson to is Charles Barkley.”
Nearly every single outrageous game Zion has, his numbers are comparable to Shaq’s. For example, in a game against the Cavs, the former Duke Blue Devil put 38 points on 73% shooting from the field. This is his 4th career game with 35+ points on 70% from the field. The only player in history with more is Shaq, who has 11.
Armstrong however, is more or less right when it comes to Zion impact on the defensive end of the floor. He hasn’t been dominant on that end since entering the league.
He has had some highlight worthy blocks but nothing comparable to what prime Shaq was doing in terms of rim protection. Williamson still has a long way to go to reach his defensive potential.