When the new millennium changed, the beginning of the Los Angeles Lakers dynasty was born. Every NBA season features moments that resonate in our minds for years to come but the year 2000 was a special year for fans living in the Los Angeles area. This season cultivated the start of something great when looking back on history.
Here are the most important player facts that happened in 2000, starting with one of the greatest defenders of all time.
Rodney Rogers Shines Off The Bench
The name Rodney Rogers may sound unfamiliar, but the small forward out of Wake Forest enjoyed a playing career that spanned from 1993 to 2005. The 2000 season was the highlight of his career as he captured 104 of the 121 potential first-place votes. Rogers averaged 13.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals, and shot 48.6% from the field.
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Despite averaging fewer points than both Cuttino Mobley and Cedric Ceballos, Rogers brought more to the table on both sides of the floor. His 7.4 win shares were two more than Mobley, who finished runner-up with only seven votes.
Jalen Rose Wins Most Improved Player
Jerry Stackhouse put on a tremendous season this year, scoring 23.6 points per game, but this was a two-man race between Dirk Nowitzki and Jalen Rose. Nowitzki was a 21-year old pup that averaged 17.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. This was only his second season in the league, and he improved mightily from his rookie season where he averaged 8.2 points and 3.4 rebounds.
However, the award went narrowly to Rose. Nowitzki earned 25.0 first-place votes, but Rose received 32 to narrowly take the award. Rose earned it by averaging 18.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.1 steals per game while averaging 47.1% from the field. Rose was coming off a season where he averaged 11.1 points and 3.1 rebounds.
Elton Brand and Steve Francis Tie For Best Rookie
Brand, a forward for the Chicago Bulls, and Francis, a guard for the Houston Rockets, split the Rookie of the Year voting. Both players received 58.0 first-place votes and finished with 58.0 points. It was the third and last time that two players tied to win Rookie of the Year.
Brand averaged 20.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. He shot 48.2% from the field and led all rookies with 7.5 win shares. As for Francis, he averaged 18.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He finished with 6.4 win shares and shot 44.5% from the field.
Alonzo Mourning Repeats As DPOY
Mourning had one of his best offensive seasons, averaging 21.7 points per game, but his defense was even better. Fresh off winning the award in 1999, Mourning finished with 9.5 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game to run away with the award. Mourning received 62% of the vote, blowing out runner-up Shaquille O'Neal by nearly 40%.
Mourning was an impact defender for the entirety of his career. There were no easy baskets with Mourning in the paint, as evident by his runaway win.
Shaq Leads The NBA In Scoring
At 29.7 points per game, Shaq dominated in the scoring column. He bested runner-up Allen Iverson's 28.4 points per game mark, but it should be known that Shaq played nine more games than Iverson. The only two players in the top-5 that played all 82 games that season were Vince Carter (25.7 PPG), and Karl Malone (25.5 PPG), and both scored about 200 points less than Shaq, who played 79 games.
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Had Grant Hill played eight more games that season, there's a chance that he could have challenged Shaq for the scoring title. Hill played 74 games and finished with 1,906 points. Shaq scored a total of 2,344 points that season.
Shaq O'Neal Wins MVP Award
When we say Shaq ran away with this vote in a landslide, there is no metaphor being used for her. Shaq received all 120 first-place votes and received 1,207 points. The maximum points one could receive in the MVP voting was 1,210 points. Kevin Garnett was the runner-up with 408 points.
The award was well-deserved. Outside of his league-leading 29.7 points per game, Shaq was runner-up in rebounds per game (13.6). He also contributed 3.8 assists, 3.0 blocks, and shot 57.4% from the field. His 18.6 win shares that season was seven more than Garnett, and they're more than the 15.3 win shares Karl Malone provided, who finished fourth in the MVP voting.
Shaq O'Neal Begins Lakers Three-Peat With First NBA Finals MVP
Even if the Lakers blew the series, Shaq made a good point to still win Finals MVP regardless. The Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers in six games and the Big Diesel had a lot to do with it. In the team's opening 104-87 win, Shaq finished with 43 points and 19 rebounds. He followed that performance up with 40 points and 24 rebounds in a 111-104 Game 2 victory.
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After losing Game 3, Shaq helped the Lakers recover and take Game 4 with a narrow 120-118 win where Shaq finished with 36 points and 21 rebounds. Despite being blown out 120-87 in Game 5, Shaq finished with 35 points and 11 rebounds. In the series finale, Shaq scored 41 points for the third time in the series. HIs 38.0 points per game remain the fourth-best NBA Finals scoring average for a series.