Last year, he engaged in some back and forth with three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. Now, he’s suggesting that he’d dominate Joel Embiid, the league’s reigning MVP.
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) July 3, 2023
Embiid is coming off a 2022-23 season in which he averaged 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 blocks per game on 54.8 percent shooting from the field and 33.0 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Though he won MVP honors for the first time in his career, he was unable to lead his Philadelphia 76ers past the second round of the playoffs. Embiid still has not played past the second round of the playoffs in his career.
O’Neal won MVP honors only once during his 19-year career, but he earned plenty of other accolades. He retired as a 15-time All-Star, four-time champion, 14-time All-NBA selection and three-time Finals MVP.
He recorded 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.3 blocks per game on 58.2 percent shooting from the field across his career. The No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, O’Neal is constantly mentioned among the best centers in NBA history.
A six-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA selection, Embiid is undoubtedly one of the league’s best players today, but many people would likely choose O’Neal over him.
Embiid likely still has plenty of years left in him before calling it quits on his career, but it doesn’t seem like he will catch up to many of O’Neal’s accomplishments at this rate.
Arguably the biggest difference between the two players exists in playoff success. As mentioned, O’Neal won four titles during his time in the NBA — three with the Lakers and one with the Miami Heat.
On the other hand, Embiid has yet to come close to making the NBA Finals, and it seems like he might need to leave the 76ers in order to have a real shot at making it that far.
Furthermore, Embiid’s play often worsens in the playoffs, as his averages drop to 24.0 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 blocks per game on 46.1 percent shooting from the field and 28.0 percent from 3-point range.
O’Neal’s numbers largely stayed the same when he played in the playoffs, and he won three straight Finals MVPs with the Lakers over 20 years ago.
It’s great to imagine what a one-on-one matchup between the prime versions of Embiid and O’Neal would look like, but it feels as though much of the NBA world would side with the Hall of Famer.