Shaquille O’Neal: His Most Underrated Season
Shaquille O’Neal is the most dominant force in NBA history. The center has made himself a legend for the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Miami Heat, winning at least one ring with two of the three teams mentioned. Shaq’s NBA resume speaks for itself. Hall of Fame, 15-time All-Star, two-time scoring champion, a four-time champion, three-time Finals MVP. The list goes on with being a Rookie of the Year, one-time league MVP, three-time All-Star Game MVP, 14 All-NBA Team selections, and three All-Defensive Team selections. With all of this in mind, it makes sense for the Big Diesel to be the next player we analyze in this ongoing “Most Underrated Season,” series. Is it one of the seasons where he was teamed up with Kobe Bryant? Maybe one of his Magic years? Let us see.
Shaq’s Most Underrated Campaign
Shaquille O’Neal: His 2000-01 Season
During the 2000-01 campaign, Shaq and Kobe were set to defend their championship from the season before. The Los Angeles Lakers were on the verge of creating one of the best dynasties in not just NBA history, but all of sports history. With the help of the reigning MVP, the Lakers finished the regular season with a win-loss record of 56-26 and eighth place in net rating with a total of +3.6. It comes as no surprise that they finished first place in their respective division as well.
The Lakers would go on to succeed in defending their title as they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in five games. This was the year where Allen Iverson created the famous play where he stepped over Tyronn Lue. Despite Iverson leading the 76ers to a win in the series, the Kobe and Shaq-led Los Angeles Lakers were still no match for the underdog 76ers. How did Shaq personally do in this championship season?
Diesel’s Numbers in the 2000-01 Campaign
Shaquille O’Neal finished with insane numbers in the 2000-01 season. Even though he did not win back-to-back MVPs, he still put up MVP-type of stats. Shaq put up 28.7 points, 2.8 blocks, 12.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. Not to mention, Shaquille O’Neal averaged a league-high field goal percentage of 57.2 percent. His advanced analytics during this campaign were also very impressive.
O’Neal averaged an offensive rating of 114 to couple with a defensive rating of 101. On top of this, Shaq also posted a league-high block plus/minus of +7.7 and a league-high win share total of +14.9. Shaquille O’Neal also averaged the highest player efficiency rating in the league during this particular season with a total of +30.2. As a matter of fact, this average would end up being his second-highest in this category for his entire career. Last, but not least, the Big Diesel also averaged a block percentage of 4.9 percent throughout the 2000-01 campaign. While having Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson as a head coach definitely helped, one cannot take away what Shaq accomplished during the 2000-01 season. All these facts are why this particular campaign is the most underrated season of Shaquille O’Neal’s Hall of Fame career.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images