Basketball picksMarch 7, 2008

The Big Diesel’s tank runnin’ on “E”

After witnessing Shaq Daddy and the rest of the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night in Denver, it is true that the once massive tread on the mighty Big Diesel, has finally worn down.

It was almost painful to watch as the lumbering giant was ineffective against the Nuggets – often playing one-on-one with Marcus Camby and losing. Shaq played 30 of the most painful minutes I have seen during the Suns vs. Nuggets tilt Wednesday night. Shaq did put up modest numbers en route to scoring 12 points on five of six shooting and two of four from the stripe and to be fair, he did grab 15 defensive boards, but Shaq is slowing down the rest of the offensive unit he was brought in to help. At this point, Shaq’s liabilities are making more of a presence than his assets.

 

The Suns are losing the track meets they were once dominating. By all accounts the Suns should have had a field day against the defenseless Nuggets, but were practically run off the court (including a 17-0 Denver run) en route to a 126-113 loss in the Mile High City.

Shaq-daddy can still pull down the boards and that helps, but he is now slower than ever down the court and appears to be nursing a left-leg injury that hampered his movement even more. The Suns appeared frustrated when they got the chance to break the ball down the court as Nash and company we forced to pull-up short and hold the ball for an extra few seconds while they waited for the their center to get in position. The Suns’ transition game was gone and the Nuggets took advantage.

With the litany of blockbuster trades that shored up the already powerful Western Conference with an influx of talent, the question comes to mind where does Phoenix now rank with the addition of O’Neal? Sadly, the Suns’ ownership was banking that Shaq still had some left in the tank and he is clearly running on E, so you have to reduce the Suns to also-ran status. The Suns once had the best record in the West and are now going to struggle to even make the playoffs.

Clearly the best in the West Conference is now the Los Angeles Lakers as their theft of Pau Gasol has proved to be the best trade of the blockbuster deals this season. When making your NBA picks, you would also have to rank Dallas’ addition of Jason Kidd – even with all the early chemistry problems, ahead of the Suns and as Shaq was once the biggest gun in the Association, the Suns’ acquisition has backfired.

The Suns aren’t intimidating teams anymore and clearly Shaq can’t keep up with his speedy teammates. The Big Diesel is now a tank and that is exactly where the Suns’ title hopes are headed – the tank.