It’s only the second day of training camp and already we have a Glen Davis v. Doc Rivers faux-controversy (we’ll get to that later today) and now this:
“Shaquille O’Neal said he would have no trouble adjusting to his role with his new team, saying he expected to play 20-25 minutes a game.” (AP via ESPN.com)
I have a hard time believing Shaquille O’Neal is going to be playing 20-25 minutes a night. Last season, he only played in 53 games and averaged 23.4 minutes as a starter. Shaq is also not likely to be the first guy off the bench, especially when Kendrick Perkins returns from injury. If the Celtics follow a similar model to last year’s rotation, they will opt for a stretch four off the bench a la Rasheed Wallace. This will likely end up being Jermaine O’Neal or Glen Davis.
To put Shaq’s prediction in perspective, last season Rasheed Wallace averaged 22.5 minutes a game, Glen Davis averaged 17 minutes a game, and Jermaine O’Neal averaged 28.4 minutes a game. That’s a lot of minutes for Doc Rivers to manage and when it is all said and done, Shaq will average around 18 minutes a game (all numbers provided by Basketball-Reference.com).
It may seem like a small distinction but with a locker room with so many egos needing to be managed, it’s not something to take lightly. Luckily, while I believe Shaq will play less than he wants, he’ll also be a valuable contributor against the league’s larger bodies.
What do you guys think? How many minutes do you see Shaq playing? Do you see minutes as being a point of contention throughout the season?