Over the last couple days it's become trendy for South Florida sports columnists to call for Riley to bench Shaq.
The big guy's performance has taken a dive this year, no doubt. Still, I'm trying to figure out what these writers think will be accomplished by benching him.
The fact is that Shaq, even in his diminished state, has been one of the most effective players on the team over the last 6 games.
Shaq struggled in his first two games this year, but he turned things around in the 5 games leading up to the Seattle game. He averaged 18 PPG and shot 50% from the floor during that time. He also played 30+ minutes in 4 out of those 5 games.
The Heat has been losing due to it's 27th ranked 3 point shooting percentage, it's inability to defend the three, and the complete lack of players who can get into the paint with any regularity (aside from Wade).
J-Will is shooting 39% from the floor. Ricky Davis, the guy who was supposed to keep us afloat with relatively efficient scoring, is shooting 40%. Dorell Wright still doesn't have a clue. Smush Parker has been a bust of epic proportions, shooting 28%.
Yet, for some reason, people are ignoring the barrage of missed jump shots being fired by the aforementioned players and are focusing almost exclusively on Shaq's terrible game against the Sonics.
There are some players on the team who have played like they're worthy of being benched, but Shaq isn't one of them. The only thing Riley would be doing by benching Shaq is ensuring that the team ends up in the lottery.
In my opinion, Riley needs to stick with the current starting line up and give this team a chance to get it together now that Wade is back.
Wade looked excellent against Seattle for a guy who hasn't played much basketball in six months. As soon as he came on the floor you could see the team become more aggressive both on offense and defense. Ricky Davis attacked the rim more last night than he has in any other game this year. Wade found open shooters all over the floor. The offense looked threatening for the first time all year.
If the team is still struggling two weeks from now, then we can start talking about shaking things up. I say be patient for now, though.