This year, Shaquille O'Neal made headlines when he declared and openly endorsed Giannis Antetokounmpo as the heir to the ‘Superman’ title which Shaquille had unanimously claimed.
This is huge as we all know that Dwight Howard used to try and steal the title but only received flak from Shaquille. For sure, the original 'Superman’ saw something special and really huge in Giannis.
Below, let's make a detailed comparison and see how this may be so.
Inside Scoring - Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O'Neal wins this hands-down. The hulk of a physical specimen that Shaquille is, his dominance once in the paint area means that he could bully anyone down-low.
Outside Scoring - Giannis
The answer is pretty obvious, Giannis wins this hands-down. One, for the fact that both players are not known at all to shoot the long ball. Two, Giannis has launched more attempts than Shaquille. Three, the coaches of Shaquille would probably never allowed him to shoot threes due to the old school schemes of play.
Athleticism - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis is a better athlete right now. He can run more, run faster and still pounds hard on the interior post area. Shaquille could do everything in the restricted zone but is helpless once he moves out of it.
Defense - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Shaquille only crushes it in the interior zones but Giannis is a better overall defender for the fact that Giannis thrives in the modern NBA when he could switch out to defend incoming wingmen as well as resist big men at the post area.
Rim Protection - Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille's size, mass, speed and upper body strength makes him the ultimate rim protection asset when he commits to it.
Rebounding - Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille is able to bully anyone and out-hustle others to snatch a rebound. Period.
Clutch - Tie
Shaquille had quite a few clutch plays during his numerous playoff adventures, from passes to dunks to blocks. Giannis, though less playoff games played, has had his fair share of clutch shots in the waning seconds of regular season games.
Leadership - Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille is a better leader as he embodies both leadership by example as well as leadership by voice. He leads his whole roster by his championship pedigree and experience, being the guy who is capable of attacking with the greatest ferocity and effort and his team follows suit.
He also leads them on the court and in the locker room as he is never shy to voice issues, call out teammates, encourage them or stand up for them. Giannis leads with his diligent work ethic, humble learning attitude and mere presence but is lacking in terms of consistency in playoff success.
Basketball IQ - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis wins this aspect. Firstly, having begun his NBA career under the tutelage of the legendary Jason Kidd enables him to download as much basketball genius as he could from the famous Hall of Fame point guard. Jason Kidd also made Giannis the point guard, forcing him to learn all the NBA plays and understand how to orchestrate the court plays as an extension of the coach's brain. Giannis then learned under the former Coach of the Year, Mike Budenholzer, in this current blisteringly great season. Shaquille did not get as much trust nor exposure from his peers or coaches to grow his basketball IQ.
Better Scorer - Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille wins this by a slight notch higher. Although Giannis is able to shoot, Euro-Step, slam dunk or do big step lay-ups anytime he wants to, Shaquille was on a Hall-of-Famer level even when he was in his twenties. Giannis came into the league as a scrawny teenager who had limited tools in his bag. He took three years under Jason Kidd to hone and mature his skillsets. Shaquille, on the other hand, entered the league with a huge bang even as a rookie in Orlando. His Lakers days were crazy dominant. Even when Shaquille went to Miami Heat, his scoring was formidable and helped Dwyane Wade secure the Championship. This year is the come-out party for Giannis but he has yet to prove his scoring prowess in extended longevity like Shaquille was able to do.
Impact - Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille wins this area of basketball. Remember how the NBA had to change rules because teams are literally throwing bench players to finish their five fouls just to slow down the charging bull in Shaquille. The ‘Hack-a-Shaq’ strategy, as coaches call it, was heavily countered by the league when they tried to update and improve their rule book.
Both players impact the game in a similar way in that they are the dominant post presence in their era and are able to draw in the defenses of their opponent. Both players can kick out to their shooters or dunk it over smaller players. However, Shaquille is so impactful on opponent team plans that the NBA crafted new rules. How much more impactful can one get?
1 on 1 Game - Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille wins this segment. In terms of footwork, skillset and shooting, Giannis has more tools in his bag when it comes to 1-on-1. However, the brute strength, explosiveness, post dominance and power of Shaquille is a once-in-a-generation kind of talent. Shaquille is able to not just score at will but also offer a huge presence in defense against the other big man.
Shaquille can probably dunk over Giannis every time if he wants to but he would falter when Giannis takes the game away from the post, which Giannis has not yet learned. So, safe to speak, Shaquille is still able to swat down any incoming lay-ups or dunks from Giannis, which constitute more than 75% of Giannis’ main offensive weapon.
Final Score: Shaquille O'Neal vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo 7-4
While Giannis has a repertoire of skillsets, he is still tender in playoff experience as well as winning formula. At the moment, Shaquille still has the upper hand as shown in his full range of different areas where he showed dominance so Shaquille wins the overall comparison.