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View Full Version : How Good Would Yao Ming be in the Modern NBA?



Quinnsanity
05-11-2017, 03:50 AM
Assume he is healthy. How much of an advantage is Yao's pure size against the generally smaller modern NBA, even if most teams still use at least one pure big? How do scheme around his defensive weaknesses?

I keep going back to that last question. Could you just zone up behind pick-and-rolls to keep him away from the perimeter as much as possible? Plenty of better defenders have seen their stock die in this league trying that very tactic, Roy Hibbert most notably. But none were as offensively valuable as Yao was even then, much less what he could be now in a smaller league.

Thoughts?

HandsOnTheWheel
05-11-2017, 04:41 AM
He'd be solid, but in a run and gun/3 point shooting oriented league that the nba is nowadays, can't picture him having the same impact that he did years ago

FlashBolt
05-11-2017, 12:28 PM
Yao could shoot. If he had to, he would have developed that game. He probably could have been the best shooting bigman at his caliber in the modern time. The guy really CAN shoot. When was the last time you saw a Center shooting 86% from the FT line? It's completely different from the three point shot but from what I've seen, Yao was always capable of that range. He'll be a monster but I think his injuries would've caught up to him eventually.

MygirlhatesCod
05-11-2017, 01:08 PM
he would be run off the court with how small and fast teams are playing now. I remember watching him run up the court when he played and it just looked painful.

Quinnsanity
05-11-2017, 04:56 PM
Yao could shoot. If he had to, he would have developed that game. He probably could have been the best shooting bigman at his caliber in the modern time. The guy really CAN shoot. When was the last time you saw a Center shooting 86% from the FT line? It's completely different from the three point shot but from what I've seen, Yao was always capable of that range. He'll be a monster but I think his injuries would've caught up to him eventually.

Could his range have ever extended to the three-point line though? Only 6% of his total shots in his career came beyond 16-feet. He took 10 total three-pointers. I think it's a stretch to say he ever would've been the best shooting big man in the league.

FlashBolt
05-11-2017, 05:11 PM
Could his range have ever extended to the three-point line though? Only 6% of his total shots in his career came beyond 16-feet. He took 10 total three-pointers. I think it's a stretch to say he ever would've been the best shooting big man in the league.

it depends. Larry was a pretty crappy shooter for much of his career until he actually worked on it. With how the game is played today, I really believe Yao would have been a very good shooter. His form is spot on and he's a very smart player in getting to his spots. The issue will always be his health. Running up and down with all those P&R would cripple his legs and back so it wouldn't last anyhow.

dhopisthename
05-11-2017, 05:59 PM
like what big could even slow him down a little? maybe Deandre Jordan or Drummond, but I think Yao would still be very good. Teams would have to adjust to him on offense. He was a 60% ts player.

LOb0
05-11-2017, 06:11 PM
I think he'd be even better. Match up nightmare in today's game. People think that a center is outdated. No having a PF and center that can't shoot is outdated. You can very much still have one post player.

lol, please
05-13-2017, 02:18 AM
Assume he is healthy. How much of an advantage is Yao's pure size against the generally smaller modern NBA, even if most teams still use at least one pure big? How do scheme around his defensive weaknesses?

I keep going back to that last question. Could you just zone up behind pick-and-rolls to keep him away from the perimeter as much as possible? Plenty of better defenders have seen their stock die in this league trying that very tactic, Roy Hibbert most notably. But none were as offensively valuable as Yao was even then, much less what he could be now in a smaller league.

Thoughts?
In today's weak ruled soft NBA and weak Center era in general, Ming would be a force, #1 C in the league undisputed.

valade16
05-13-2017, 10:21 AM
It would be funny to see the Cavs or Warriors try to play Tristan Thompson or Draymond Green at C vs Yao. They'd get killed, the question is would Yao's effect defensively give all those points back? In today's small ball league it would not be a good time for Yao if he gets switched onto a guard in a pick and roll.

THE MTL
05-13-2017, 10:33 AM
I think Yao would be just as good if not better. No one could take him in the post but in addition to that Yao was always a good shooter which is necessary for big these days.

And like that other poster said, I think with the emphasis on bigs shooting threes; Yao would have picked that up too

Jamiecballer
05-13-2017, 10:39 AM
He wouldn't hang around long. The raptors have a guy who would have been a much more impact full player 15 years ago and he's such a disadvantage defensively he can't stay on the court. Despite being way more skilled I think Yao suffers the same fate.

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Rivera
05-13-2017, 11:14 AM
he may be reduced to a 15-20 min a night threat. he could dominate but i dont think his endurance was up to par to stay and doesnt have enough lateral quickness to cover the 3pt line

there are certain matchups though that he could play more and just dominate

flea
05-13-2017, 03:14 PM
He wouldn't hang around long. The raptors have a guy who would have been a much more impact full player 15 years ago and he's such a disadvantage defensively he can't stay on the court. Despite being way more skilled I think Yao suffers the same fate.

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Lmao are you really comparing Jonas Valacunias to Yao?

He'd dominate, like he did when he was healthy just 10 years ago. The NBA hasn't changed all that much for centers. The guys it has helped are tweener forwards, jumpshooters, and ballhandlers. The guys it has disadvantaged are true power forwards, athletic wings that aren't great shooters or ballhandlers, and big guards.

Everyone is talking about defending the 3 point line like switching is the only way to play defense (it's not and not every team switches like the Warriors or Cavs) or that there are centers he'd need to chase around screens to protect the J (there aren't any, Horford is about as close as it gets). Plus most starting centers wouldn't have a prayer at guarding him. He was a great shotblocker too so P&Rs wouldn't kill his team in the paint. I mean it was 3 years ago that old Duncan won a title as his team's best player - let's not act like the only way to win is to play 5 out on O and run a zone on D.

PAOboston
05-13-2017, 04:14 PM
I think he would be able to score easily against any current center but would get destroyed in the pace n space environment on defense.

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Jamiecballer
05-13-2017, 06:27 PM
Lmao are you really comparing Jonas Valacunias to Yao?

He'd dominate, like he did when he was healthy just 10 years ago. The NBA hasn't changed all that much for centers. The guys it has helped are tweener forwards, jumpshooters, and ballhandlers. The guys it has disadvantaged are true power forwards, athletic wings that aren't great shooters or ballhandlers, and big guards.

Everyone is talking about defending the 3 point line like switching is the only way to play defense (it's not and not every team switches like the Warriors or Cavs) or that there are centers he'd need to chase around screens to protect the J (there aren't any, Horford is about as close as it gets). Plus most starting centers wouldn't have a prayer at guarding him. He was a great shotblocker too so P&Rs wouldn't kill his team in the paint. I mean it was 3 years ago that old Duncan won a title as his team's best player - let's not act like the only way to win is to play 5 out on O and run a zone on D.
Not specifically, no. I'm comparing him to another player who has been dramatically impacted by the way the game is changing who is also big and plodding. I don't think he'd thrive at all.

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flea
05-13-2017, 06:51 PM
Not specifically, no. I'm comparing him to another player who has been dramatically impacted by the way the game is changing who is also big and plodding. I don't think he'd thrive at all.

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He put up 20 and 10 with 2 blocks just 8 seasons ago. What kind of numbers do you think he'd put up if you don't think he'd thrive? If post-prime Z-Bo can put up 16/10 then why on earth could a much superior 2-way center like Yao not put up at least 20/10 while competing for the league lead in blocks? Did this whole subforum start watching basketball like last year?

Tg11
05-13-2017, 07:02 PM
No I think Yao probably would not last in today's current league

Jamiecballer
05-13-2017, 07:39 PM
He put up 20 and 10 with 2 blocks just 8 seasons ago. What kind of numbers do you think he'd put up if you don't think he'd thrive? If post-prime Z-Bo can put up 16/10 then why on earth could a much superior 2-way center like Yao not put up at least 20/10 while competing for the league lead in blocks? Did this whole subforum start watching basketball like last year?
I'm not interested in predicting numbers because it's besides the point. I think it would depend very much on the situation he landed in. It wouldn't surprise me if he struggled to get the minutes to be a star player. His mobility would be an issue, imo, in today's game.

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valade16
05-13-2017, 08:19 PM
He put up 20 and 10 with 2 blocks just 8 seasons ago. What kind of numbers do you think he'd put up if you don't think he'd thrive? If post-prime Z-Bo can put up 16/10 then why on earth could a much superior 2-way center like Yao not put up at least 20/10 while competing for the league lead in blocks? Did this whole subforum start watching basketball like last year?

8 seasons ago only 2 teams in the whole league shot more 3-point attempts than the worst team in the league this season. It's actually changed quite a bit. The explosion in 3-pt shooting didn't really start until last season (maybe 1-2 teams the year before).

TheMightyHumph
05-13-2017, 08:38 PM
8 seasons ago only 2 teams in the whole league shot more 3-point attempts than the worst team in the league this season. It's actually changed quite a bit. The explosion in 3-pt shooting didn't really start until last season (maybe 1-2 teams the year before).

And that is why the 3-point line must be changed.

flea
05-13-2017, 09:55 PM
8 seasons ago only 2 teams in the whole league shot more 3-point attempts than the worst team in the league this season. It's actually changed quite a bit. The explosion in 3-pt shooting didn't really start until last season (maybe 1-2 teams the year before).

Oh I'm well aware of the changes - they came with the clarification of jumpshooting rules but the loosened ballhandling rules have been that way since late 00s. I hate this junkball NBA that the commissioner has given us, half the games are like watching an Ivy League college game.

But centers are still vital, otherwise no team would play with them. The best centers in the league are Gasol and Horford IMO. Yao is easily better than both of them. And Yao ran pretty well for as big as he was, otherwise he wouldn't have been an NBA starter. Plus, both Gasol and Horford are probably in the bottom half of all NBA starters in athleticism. It's a skill position, just like PG.

tredigs
05-13-2017, 10:32 PM
8 seasons ago only 2 teams in the whole league shot more 3-point attempts than the worst team in the league this season. It's actually changed quite a bit. The explosion in 3-pt shooting didn't really start until last season (maybe 1-2 teams the year before).

It's an amplified version of the same theme we've had for over a decade though. Most shots in the NBA are either at the rim or from 3, and for good reason. There is a VERY small difference in average FG% shooting from 4 feet out on out to 23.9 feet out. The difference is shots from 23.9 feet out are worth 50% more points. Yao would be very good, but the bottom line is that as far as bigs go, the #1 quality is rim protection. He wasn't a dominant enough interior bruiser to punish most teams. It's not as if every team does not have a ~7 footer they could throw at him.

tredigs
05-13-2017, 10:35 PM
^What I'm saying is that if we're under the impression he would be an opposing team game changer/shifter or top 3 player, no, he would not.

mavwar53
05-13-2017, 10:43 PM
He'd Be more of a liability now than an asset, I know Javalle McGee isn't great but in terms of impact I think McGees length and ability to run the floor would impact that game more than Uao while the pt/36min would be pretty close.

lakerfan85
05-14-2017, 12:01 AM
He'd Be more of a liability now than an asset, I know Javalle McGee isn't great but in terms of impact I think McGees length and ability to run the floor would impact that game more than Uao while the pt/36min would be pretty close.

Wait!? Maybe I'm a little intoxicated but are you saying Yao and Javelle Mcgee's points per 36 minutes would be similar?

Chronz
05-14-2017, 03:56 PM
I'd imagine he'd look alot more like he did in that series vs Dallas where he had to guard Josh Howard cuz Dirk stretched him out too far. You can build a contender with that tho.

Chronz
05-14-2017, 04:14 PM
I think Yao would be just as good if not better. No one could take him in the post but in addition to that Yao was always a good shooter which is necessary for big these days.

And like that other poster said, I think with the emphasis on bigs shooting threes; Yao would have picked that up too

Then why didn't he back when Adelman wanted him to be a threat from the elbows and beyond? Yao would be unstoppable offensively but it wouldn't be because he stretched his game out beyond what was his norm. I cant imagine him shooting jumpers instead of working for angles inside where he used his immense height advantage.

Chronz
05-14-2017, 04:19 PM
It's an amplified version of the same theme we've had for over a decade though. Most shots in the NBA are either at the rim or from 3, and for good reason. There is a VERY small difference in average FG% shooting from 4 feet out on out to 23.9 feet out. The difference is shots from 23.9 feet out are worth 50% more points. Yao would be very good, but the bottom line is that as far as bigs go, the #1 quality is rim protection. He wasn't a dominant enough interior bruiser to punish most teams. It's not as if every team does not have a ~7 footer they could throw at him.

Yao could not be defended 1v1, certainly not by the centers we have today.

lol, please
05-14-2017, 06:25 PM
Lmao are you really comparing Jonas Valacunias to Yao?

He'd dominate, like he did when he was healthy just 10 years ago. The NBA hasn't changed all that much for centers. The guys it has helped are tweener forwards, jumpshooters, and ballhandlers. The guys it has disadvantaged are true power forwards, athletic wings that aren't great shooters or ballhandlers, and big guards.

Everyone is talking about defending the 3 point line like switching is the only way to play defense (it's not and not every team switches like the Warriors or Cavs) or that there are centers he'd need to chase around screens to protect the J (there aren't any, Horford is about as close as it gets). Plus most starting centers wouldn't have a prayer at guarding him. He was a great shotblocker too so P&Rs wouldn't kill his team in the paint. I mean it was 3 years ago that old Duncan won a title as his team's best player - let's not act like the only way to win is to play 5 out on O and run a zone on D.

GREAT post flea. I've been trying to help dispel many of these myths as well.

Jamiecballer
05-15-2017, 08:51 PM
GREAT post flea. I've been trying to help dispel many of these myths as well.
You could have honestly stopped reading when you saw "just" ten years ago

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tredigs
05-15-2017, 08:52 PM
Yao could not be defended 1v1, certainly not by the centers we have today.

Not by most, no, but trapping a post player is not exactly a novel concept for these guys either. Any team with length and speed would fair fine against him. Prime Yao today would be a top 10 player when healthy though. Just, not a world changer.

Raps18-19 Champ
05-15-2017, 10:25 PM
If he's healthy? He'd be averaging like 22 PPG (maybe high teens), 14-18 RPG, 4 APG and 3 BPG.

Yao was fantastic operating inside. The fact that you'll have smaller guys guarding him gives him more space. And if he's doubled then he's be good enough to find the open man.

flea
05-16-2017, 06:56 PM
You could have honestly stopped reading when you saw "just" ten years ago

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So do you also think Shaq wouldn't be good in today's NBA? He was 350 pounds and played pudgy for at least half his career. If Yao is "too slow" or whatever your goofy argument is then Shaq would be wayyyyyy too slow. Hell after about 04 Shaq sometimes wouldn't even bother running the court on some possessions but he was still a good player.

Chronz
05-17-2017, 08:03 PM
So do you also think Shaq wouldn't be good in today's NBA? He was 350 pounds and played pudgy for at least half his career. If Yao is "too slow" or whatever your goofy argument is then Shaq would be wayyyyyy too slow. Hell after about 04 Shaq sometimes wouldn't even bother running the court on some possessions but he was still a good player.

A gross exaggeration to say the least good sir, as Shaq continued to shed the weight after 2004 and played some stellar defense in Miami and Phoenix(at least by their small ball standards). That said, running the PnR on them is NOTHING new and wouldn't be much different today. Like I mentioned earlier, watch the series a young Yao had vs Dallas. They isolated Josh Howard and just attacked with the floor spread, it sometimes got so bad for the Rockets that Old Mt. Mutombo often proved a greater force against them. Even with all that, Houston overachieved tremendously and Yao was a statistical monster against the midget ball.

Yao is slower than Shaq, though Shaq was a FAR better runner and more capable in a high pace offense. Yao was deadly in the PnR as well but it wasn't so much in the sense that he was a bulldozer coming down hard so I dont feel he opened up the perimeter game for his teammates as well.

You could most definitely build an elite defense around Yao, his rim protection was ELITE, I dont know what some here are arguing but I recommend you guys watch the game where Bron has zero assists for the first time ever, at least that I know of. He was the wall surrounded by smart footed players like Battier, Artest, Hayes. Houston was regularly elite with him and he made his presence felt defensively from day 1.

The problems arise against certain matchups, come playoff if your team had 2 bigs that could shoot and a penetrating playmaker, the Rockets were stretched beyond their talent. Every series the Rockets have lost with a healthy Yao, his lack of defense or lack of rebounding were a factor in some form. That problem didn't happen so much with Shaq IMO.

PS. Lots of players bulked up in the 90's, that was sort of when it became in vogue. Its not hard to imagine guys sticking to a more lean build if the game was heading that way. Maybe not Shaq simply because he had so much talent, dude got bigger and any loss in agility/quickness was more than mitigated, his career was only derailed by that awful decision to not fix his toe injury. Still, maybe he would see where the game was going with his body as he had proven to do so before. I look at guys like he and Zo and I think if they came in today, they would focus more on the quickness aspects of the their games. Zo was better in his later days but I think he would have kept the weight off and stuck with his slashing/face up game from of his youth in todays game.

Chronz
05-17-2017, 08:20 PM
Not by most, no, but trapping a post player is not exactly a novel concept for these guys either. Any team with length and speed would fair fine against him. Prime Yao today would be a top 10 player when healthy though. Just, not a world changer.
We never got to see peak Yao is my thing and his world changing abilities are kind of dependent on his backup/teammates. I'll tellya wat, hes the difference between contention and lottery for some teams and is a better player than the likes of Harden IMO.

But you said "most", who are these centers that could stand a chance at defending him? Im telling you it was impossible 1V1, I dont know how you feel about Greg Oden but I think he would rank as one of the best defensive bigs today, had he stayed healthy of course. So look at his series vs the Blazers, dude ate them up in G.1 when Nate(guessing here) decided to play him straight up. From then on out it was instant doubles and swarms galore. Houston didn't have the spacing around him to make it simple for him and he wasn't as gifted a passer as his reputation suggests, he was a willing passer and definitely not a dumb one like Dwight but swarming him did bring its problems, midget PG's had a sense for knowing when he couldn't sense them and would pilfer him but again, it wasn't quite on a Dwight like level. Maybe Yao doesn't lead a truly elite offense, but his methodical style of play in the post has its benefits defensively and with his ELITE rim protection, you could most definitely have him anchor a truly great defense. I actually think refs will at least give him more of that verticality bull he could have used back then.

valade16
05-17-2017, 08:33 PM
We never got to see peak Yao is my thing and his world changing abilities are kind of dependent on his backup/teammates. I'll tellya wat, hes the difference between contention and lottery for some teams and is a better player than the likes of Harden IMO.

But you said "most", who are these centers that could stand a chance at defending him? Im telling you it was impossible 1V1, I dont know how you feel about Greg Oden but I think he would rank as one of the best defensive bigs today, had he stayed healthy of course. So look at his series vs the Blazers, dude ate them up in G.1 when Nate(guessing here) decided to play him straight up. From then on out it was instant doubles and swarms galore. Houston didn't have the spacing around him to make it simple for him and he wasn't as gifted a passer as his reputation suggests, he was a willing passer and definitely not a dumb one like Dwight but swarming him did bring its problems, midget PG's had a sense for knowing when he couldn't sense them and would pilfer him but again, it wasn't quite on a Dwight like level. Maybe Yao doesn't lead a truly elite offense, but his methodical style of play in the post has its benefits defensively and with his ELITE rim protection, you could most definitely have him anchor a truly great defense. I actually think refs will at least give him more of that verticality bull he could have used back then.

Rockets Drtg:

2004: 4th
2005: 4th
2006: 6th
2007: 3rd
2008: 2nd
2009: 4th
2010: 17th (without him)
2011: 19th (without him)

He anchored a Top 5 Defense pretty much his entire career. That's pretty good.

flea
05-17-2017, 08:44 PM
I didn't mean to imply Yao was near as good as Shaq or even in his class athletically. But Shaq, for much of the latter half of his career was as slow or slower. Better short space quickness probably, but even that is mitigated by Yao's height advantage to an extent if we're doing an apples to oranges comparison.

Shaq dragged on his teams' pace and those Phoenix days were when I was talking about when he'd not even run the floor and just wait on possessions. He really screwed up the Suns and the whole project utterly failed when they didn't make the postseason the only full year he was there but went to the WCF the year after he was gone. Even at the time people realized it was an awkward fit but I think that experiment is illuminating for this discussion.

Shaq was fat and slow and they plugged him into the prototype for what most teams run today - and they still won 46 games but it was clearly a bad fit. If you've got a guy like Shaq or Yao you want less possessions, not more, and the opposite is true if you've got Nash.

I think prime Yao would be every bit as good as late Heat through Phoenix era Shaq - probably better. This whole discussion is a little ludicrous because half the posters are acting like something a guy did 8 years ago would be impossible today. Yao would be a top 10 scorer and defender in today's NBA. Would he have problems with some teams on P&R? Sure, but half the teams back then were running P&R offenses like most teams today already and he did fine.

Chronz
05-17-2017, 09:45 PM
I didn't mean to imply Yao was near as good as Shaq or even in his class athletically. But Shaq, for much of the latter half of his career was as slow or slower. Better short space quickness probably, but even that is mitigated by Yao's height advantage to an extent if we're doing an apples to oranges comparison.

Shaq dragged on his teams' pace and those Phoenix days were when I was talking about when he'd not even run the floor and just wait on possessions. He really screwed up the Suns and the whole project utterly failed when they didn't make the postseason the only full year he was there but went to the WCF the year after he was gone. Even at the time people realized it was an awkward fit but I think that experiment is illuminating for this discussion.

Shaq was fat and slow and they plugged him into the prototype for what most teams run today - and they still won 46 games but it was clearly a bad fit. If you've got a guy like Shaq or Yao you want less possessions, not more, and the opposite is true if you've got Nash.

I think prime Yao would be every bit as good as late Heat through Phoenix era Shaq - probably better. This whole discussion is a little ludicrous because half the posters are acting like something a guy did 8 years ago would be impossible today. Yao would be a top 10 scorer and defender in today's NBA. Would he have problems with some teams on P&R? Sure, but half the teams back then were running P&R offenses like most teams today already and he did fine.

We disagree on all counts, Shaq was faster and more of a threat rumbling down the lane to begin with. Phx trade for Shaq was a success on the merits that it made them a better team than simply giving into Marion's demands. Shaq wasn't a bad fit for Phoenix, on the contrary, he gave birth to what was the fastest version of the Suns yet, the then dubbed the 7 seconds or Shaq offense under Gentry(no lie, their pace rating was at its highest during that initial stretch with Gentry+Shaq than in any D'Antoni year).

What held the team back was Terry Porter and Kerr's false hopes of playing more like the Spurs were then. It took away from everyone else's game but once they dropped that philosophy, EVERYONE saw an uptick in production or efficiency, literally it was a night and day difference. The Suns would have made the playoffs had Amare not gotten hurt to close the season OR if they had simply never hired Porter and just stuck to their true identity as players. I would agree that it was a short term option, Shaq wasn't going to stay happy in Phx and the chemistry did improve without Shaq and with a floor spacing 5 in Frye, but I enjoyed their games too much to call it awkward. One of the greatest misconceptions is that Phoenix did wrong by trading for Shaq, the truth is, they never gave the experiment an honest shot. They radically altered their team to maximize an OLD Shaq and hopefully play better defense. That was never in the Suns best interest and that was the only awkward fit but that was due to their defense. Lets say you replace Amare with Draymond Green, in that SAME system, I see Phoenix winning 55 games or so and definitely outplaying their WCF version.



Maybe Yao's better than that Shaq but its a nuanced discussion simply because their careers did in fact overlap during those stages and he wasn't considered better by the accolades and maybe the numbers in at least some if not most of those years.

Jamiecballer
05-17-2017, 10:18 PM
So do you also think Shaq wouldn't be good in today's NBA? He was 350 pounds and played pudgy for at least half his career. If Yao is "too slow" or whatever your goofy argument is then Shaq would be wayyyyyy too slow. Hell after about 04 Shaq sometimes wouldn't even bother running the court on some possessions but he was still a good player.
No man, Shaq is a very different animal. Yao was more of a plodding skilled big. I think they would be affected quite differently. Although I don't think Shaq would last as long now.

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flea
05-17-2017, 10:31 PM
I think you're both misremembering how fat and slow Shaq got, and how quick and nimble Yao was. Yao had very good agility for a man his size, and he was also good rumbling down the lane. His hands weren't as good as Shaq's (which were great) but they were among the best in the game. Again, forget the freak of nature Shaq with the Lakers. Just look at how they move:

Yao: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htm7b_saqcs

Shaq with Suns: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmUHvaHPa4Y

Yao moves a lot better in some of those highlights than some starting centers today. Recovering on a P&R? Nah he's going to be late. But so is fatty Shaq.

mightybosstone
05-17-2017, 11:28 PM
Yao would be every bit as good in today's NBA as he was back then if not better because of the lack of capable defensive big men in the league today. Offensively, he might be asked to learn to hit a 3-pointer, but he was deadly out to 18-19 feet, so I can see that being a realistic improvement. Defensively, he would struggle a bit if you asked him to guard stretch bigs on the perimeter, but I could see a team with Yao running more of a zone defensively to prevent that from happening. And his length would still bother anyone, even if he got stuck out on the perimeter at times.

Yao was insanely skilled for a a player his size, and the league hasn't changed THAT much in the last decade. I don't understand the posters who suggest he couldn't play in today's NBA.