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Building The Perfect Superteam Around Shaquille O'Neal ($120M Salary Cap)

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Building The Perfect Superteam Around Shaquille O'Neal ($120M Salary Cap)

Shaquille O’Neal is one of the most dominant men ever to play the game of basketball. From his days in Orlando where he was named Rookie Of The Year and appeared in an NBA Finals to his day with Los Angeles where he was the best player in the world, Shaq destroyed opponents nightly. He even left LA when the easier path to a ring was to stay and joined Dwyane Wade in Miami where he would win his 4th title in 7 seasons. So, we already know that Shaq can be Shaq and win wherever he goes.

I have heard a lot of chatter these days about how O’Neal wouldn't be the same in today’s game, and how he wouldn’t be able to guard the perimeter or be as effective on offense due to his inability to spread the floor. The all-time greats and their play would translate to any era but what if we gave ourselves a 120 million dollar budget to build the best possible lineup around him? What would this lineup look like? Would it be the greatest dynasty of all time? Let’s take a look.

Rules

- Maximum 2 Players From Any Team

- Maximum 1 Rookie Player

- Maximum $120 Million Salary Cap

- 2 Guards, 2 Forwards, 1 Center


Stephen Curry - $48,070,014

Stephen Curry

Steph Curry is widely recognized, and rightfully so, as the greatest shooter of all time. Pair him with the most dominant interior presence of all time and you have a blistering headache for opponents nightly. For the 1st time in his storied career, Curry would finally have a top-tier, elite big. The possibilities would be endless given Steph’s ability to create his shot with or without the ball and Shaq’s high basketball IQ to seemingly always know the right play to make amid the massive attention he garnered on the floor in his career.

Shaq’s ability to easily overpower any Center in today’s league would eventually open up outside opportunities for Curry and their other teammates. Shaq would dominate along the same lines as, if not more than Giannis Antetokounmpo does. The only difference being of course that Giannis has developed into an outside threat. With Curry(and others) in this lineup, Shaq would be able to play his game and not worry about any outside opportunities. Besides, Curry is Shaq’s favorite player, he has to be here.


Zach LaVine - $19,500,000

Zach LaVine

Shaq wouldn’t be the only one abusing the rim on this squad. 2-time Slam Dunk Champion Zach LaVine would be a perfect fit at Shooting Guard for this team and on a pretty cheap deal too. In each of his last 4 seasons, LaVine has eclipsed the 23.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and, 4.0 APG threshold in each. He has earned back-to-back All-Star appearances as well and has emerged as one of the league’s top offensive threats.

LaVine can also shoot it from distance, hovering right around 38.5% from beyond the arc for his career. Without the ball, he is an incredible slasher, always able to find the clear lane. With the ball, he is an above-average shot-creator using his athleticism and quick release on his jumper. He has struggled defensively in the past but is much improved his on-ball defense, using the same athleticism that he does on offense to hound his opponent. LaVine is a truly welcomed addition to an already strong team.


Anthony Edwards - $10,733,400

Anthony Edwards

One of the brightest young stars in the game today, Anthony Edwards joins this team still on his rookie deal. In just his 2nd season in the league, Edwards averaged 21.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 3.8 RPG, all improvements from his rookie campaign. Edwards also vastly improved on the defensive side of the ball, averaging 1.5 SPG. Edwards has generational talent and athleticism and on this roster loaded with talent, Ant would probably get a majority of the good looks afforded to the team.

Edwards has also begun to improve his accuracy from 3-point land. He improved from just over 32% from three in his rookie season to over 35% from three in his 2nd year on 8.2 attempts. Much like the other members of this starting five, Ant can create his shot with ease whether going to the rack or creating a step-back from the mid-range. Edwards brings youth, explosiveness, and a tenacious attitude/energy from the young T-Wolves squad to this roster that was lacking in that area. Something Shaq would truly appreciate.


Kevin Durant - $40,918,900

Kevin Durant

It seems pretty unfair to include one of the best scorers of all time on this team but since we can afford him, why not? Durant has been the target of much criticism lately after the Brooklyn Nets were swept out of the 1st round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics. Let’s not let that distract you from the talent that Kevin Durant is.

Durant still had an incredible 2022 season. He put up 29.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 6.4 APG while nearly joining the elusive 50/40/90 club. He shot 38.3% from 3, falling just shy of the mark. Having another elite shooter alongside Shaq, who happens to be 7-foot and with nearly unlimited range is about as lethal as it gets when building a team.


Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal

Now, for the star of our show, Shaquille O’Neal. What more can be said about The Big Aristotle? Perhaps and, in my mind, the most dominant Center we have ever seen step onto a court. His prime in Los Angeles is nothing short of pure greatness. In his 8 seasons in LA, Shaq averaged 27.0 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 2.5 BPG, and was an All-Star 7 times.

It wasn’t just the numbers though. Shaq would make some of the best defensive centers in the league look like they were back in their childhoods, completely lost and unable to figure out any way to stop him. In the 2001 NBA Finals, Shaq faced off against Defensive Player Of The Year, Dikembe Mutombo. Shaq put Mutombo through absolute hell. Shaq put up 33 PPG, 15.8 RPG, and 4.8 APG to go with 3.5 BPG. Shaq won titles with Kobe in LA, Wade in MIA, and on both teams, role players who were great ballplayers and knew their roles very well. Can you imagine what could be done with this lineup?


Total Salary Used: $119,222,314


A Dynasty For The Ages

There is no denying the greatness of this team. Elite shooters and scorers to surround Shaq would quite frankly break every team record in league history. Offensively, there are zero weaknesses. You have shooting from every position on the floor aside from the Center. At every position, you have a guy who can make plays for their teammates while being able to create their own shots. This team and the offensive prowess it presents could quite possibly put up over 150 PPG. It is that scary.

Defensively, there could be some issues. None of these guys were ever considered great defenders. Well, Shaq was at a point so that’s not entirely true, but aside from him, everyone here is average to slightly above average. Plus, we all can admit that in today’s game, perimeter defense is the most valuable defense there is. However, all 5 of these players have been gifted with incredible length and athleticism. Even though individually these guys may not be top-tier defenders, as a unit they could cause problems for the opposition. In this case, I don’t think many are going to be worried about how they defend considering the offense being produced.

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