Shaquille O'Neal. Powerful, strong, and giant. Hakeem Olajuwon. Quick, graceful, and tall. These two players had different playing styles but very similar results. Hakeem has two rings and Shaq has four. Some could argue that these two are the greatest centers of all time. Today however, I will be comparing them and choosing which one I believe is better. I will compare them by comparing separate categories. Those categories are: Scoring, defense, rebounding, passing, and the finale. The finale will be separated into smaller categories including shooting efficiency, MPG/GPS, leadership, and of course, the clutch factor. Don't forget to follow me on twitter at @CJ_H_12 and please voice your opinion by commenting in the section below.
Scoring: This one has to go to the Big Diesel. Shaquille averaged the highest PPG average twice in his NBA career. Hakeem never did it. Shaq also has a higher PPG over his whole career. Their PPG averages are: Olajuwon: 21.8 Shaq: 23.7
Their averages are very deceiving though. Olajuwon through his first twelve years averaged 24.2 PPG. Shaq over his first twelve years averaged 26.7 PPG. Shaq was the better scorer but Hakeem might have the better signature move. Hakeem of course had the Dream Shake. If you've never seen his dream shake then you have to go see it. You could argue that Shaq had the most effective move which was the spin, hook, and dunk. Either way Shaq was the better scorer.
Defense: This one obviously goes to Hakeem. Hakeem is the all time leader in blocked shots and is considered one of the greatest defensive forces the NBA has ever seen. Although Hakeem is definitely the superior defender in this case, Shaq wasn't too bad himself when it came to defense. Due to his giant body it was very difficult to move him out of position on defense. He could reach his strong arms and block you anytime you tried to dunk or shoot over him. Shaq's defensive credentials is only being on the defensive second team once. Hakeem was on the defensive first team 5 times and the second team 4 times. He was also defensive player of the year twice. This one obviously goes to Hakeem.
Rebounding: This one is very close. They both averaged 11 RPG for their career and never averaged less than 10 RPG in their first 12 years. Hakeem did lead the league in rebounds two years while Shaq never did. Since their career averages are so close I will look at how they did against each other. From 1992 to 1997 they played 10 regular season games against each other. (They played ten more games after 1997 but by then Hakeem wasn't nearly as good as he used to be and Shaq was in his prime.) In those ten games Shaq averaged 13.9 and Hakeem averaged 10.3. In the 1995 finals (4 games) Shaq averaged 12.5 RPG and Hakeem averaged 11.5 RPG. To me these stats lead me to believe that Shaq is the better rebounder. In Hakeem's prime and Shaq's first couple of years, Shaq outrebounded Hakeem. I can see how you could say Hakeem is a better rebounder but head to head rebounding is more important to me.
Passing: Shaq and Hakeem were both primarily scorers. They got the ball, posted up, and scored. Sometimes when they posted up they would play a 2 on 2 game or find another open teammate but mostly they were scorers. I'm not saying they're ball hogs! They're definitely not ball hogs! They both averaged 2.5 APG for their careers and both averaged at least 3.0 APG 4 times. These stats are just not big enough or impactful enough for me to compare.
Finale: For the finale I will compare smaller categories. The smaller categories are shooting efficiency, MPG/GPS, leadership, and the clutch factor.
First I will compare shooting efficiency. Shaquille O'Neal's field goal percentage might be the highest of all time. He led the league in FG% 10 times! Another way to put this in perspective, his lowest FG% was 55.7%. David Robinson's highest FG% was 55.2%. Yes, Shaq's lowest field goal percentage in one year was David Robinson's highest in one year. Hakeem's highest FG% was 53.8%. Again, Shaq's lowest FG% was higher than Hakeem's highest FG%. This to me is amazing. We all know how bad Shaq is when it comes to the free throw line so I don't have to explain FT%. Hakeem's career free throw percentage was 71.2% (Just putting it out there). To me Shaq didn't need to be a free throw shooter because of how great he was from the field. Hakeem relied most on shooting from the field and free throw percentage. Neither of his shooting efficiency stats was great. Shaq was unstoppable from the field, which is why I think Shaq wins this category. The score is now 2-1 with Shaq leading.(Fun fact: the most dunks from 1987 to 2002 was Shaq with 2,447 dunks. Second place, was David Robinson with 1,595.) The next category for the finale is MPG/GPS. (GPS stands for Games per Season) I will calculate who plays more minutes in one season on average. I will do this by finding their GPS and then multiplying this by their MPG. Hakeem averaged 75.2 GPS for his first thirteen years and Shaq averaged 68.6 GPS. I skipped the 1999 season because of the lockout and didn't count their last couple of years due to injury. Last I will find their MPG. Hakeem for his first thirteen years averaged 37.7 MPG. Shaq averaged 37 MPG. Due to these facts Hakeem averaged 2,835 minutes in a season and Shaq averaged 2,538 minutes in a season. This shows that Hakeem would play 297 more minutes (6 games) than Shaq in their prime. These facts prove to me that Hakeem would give me more playing time. This category has to go to Hakeem. The score is now 2-2. Next is leadership. We all know Hakeem is a leader. He led his team to back to back championships and was the center of the whole team. Was Shaq a leader? I have looked into this and I believe he is a leader. On the Magic he led a team who in 1991 was 21-61 to a 41-41 Magic in 1992. For people who aren't good at math, that's a 20 win difference! He then led this team to the 1995 finals (Where they lost to Hakeem and Rockets). When he got to the Lakers he led his team to a three peat. After the Lakers he was traded to the Heat. On the Heat he was mature enough to let Dwyane Wade lead the team to a championship. Throughout his career he was always on a successful team (Not counting the last 3 years of his career). This leads me to believe that they were equal leaders. The score is now 2-2. What better way to decide this than by the clutch factor? Let's take a look at this. Hakeem has a couple credentials and so does Shaq. Are Shaq's credentials better than Hakeem? Or is it vice versa? Hakeem probably has the best credential but Shaq has more Finals. Hakeem's best credential definitely has to be the 1994 NBA Finals. In Game 6 he scored 30 points, had 10 rebounds, and blocked John Stark's game winning shot to force game 7. In game 7 he had 25 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 blocks. Shaq also has credentials. For example the Lakers were down by 13 going into the 4th quarter and Shaq led the Lakers to a 31-13 4th quarter and clinching the game on an
Alley-oop from Kobe. All these credentials force me to call this a tie. This still makes the score 2-2. This is for you to decide now. In my opinion Shaq would be too powerful and strong for Hakeem. I want to hear who you would choose though. Please share your opinion and give an explanation in the comment section below. Thank you and don't forget to follow me on twitter at @CJHurley12.
Winner: Your opinion