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Shaquille O'Neal's Stats For Each Season: The Most Dominant Player In NBA History

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Shaquille O'Neal's Stats For Each Season: The Most Dominant Player In NBA History

In today’s game, the league wants a center that can run the offense, pull up from three, and also protect the rim. Would Shaquille O’Neal succeed in today’s league? That’s certainly worth talking about, but what we can confirm is that O’Neal was the game’s best center in the 90s and 2000s. It’s a different era now. Back then, it was to get the ball in the post and let the bigs work. O’Neal didn’t just work, he finished.

O’Neal was a gifted finisher, rebounder, and shot blocker. He was one of the most efficient big men in the game that helped Orlando rise to the top and the Lakers become a dynasty. The three-time Finals MVP remains the best to ever suit up.

These are O’Neal’s stats per season.

1992-93 Season: 23.4 PPG, 13.9 PPG, 1.9 APG, 0.7 SPG, 3.5 BPG

With the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic selected O’Neal. It took just the first week of the season to win Player of the Week. Shaq finished the season second in rebounding and blocks, losing to Dennis Rodman and Hakeem Olajuwon respectively. Offensively, he shot the ball quite a bit, shooting 56.2% from the field.

Because O’Neal was getting a lot of touches, he led the league in turnovers. He did win Rookie of the Year though with his averages. The Magic finished 41-41 and won 20 games from the previous season. However, the team missed out on making the playoffs in his first year.

1993-94 Season: 29.3 PPG, 13.2 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 2.9 BPG

In O’Neal’s second season, Brian Hill took over coaching duties. He improved to scoring nearly 30 points per game and led the NBA by shooting 60% from inside the arc. He also led the league in making field goals and shot an overall 59.9% shooting percentage.

He finished second in the scoring race to David Robinson. The season saw him score his first career triple-double, which included a double-double in points-rebounds by compiling 24 points, 28 rebounds, and 15 blocks. O’Neal was voted to the All-Star Game and recorded his first All-NBA appearance. The Magic won 50 games and made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

1994-95 Season: 29.3 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 2.7 APG, 0.9 SPG, 2.4 BPG

In his third season, O’Neal led the league in scoring. He nearly won the MVP but finished as the runner-up. With O’Neal leading the way, the team won 57 games and a division crown. The tandem of Penny Hardaway and O’Neal was lethal, even leading the Magic past the Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan and the Indiana Pacers, led by Reggie Miller.

The Magic made the NBA Finals before getting swept by the Rockets and Hakeem Olajuwon. Individually speaking, this was a breakout year for O’Neal. He led the league in making field goals, field goal attempts, two-point field goals and attempts, and free throws attempted. Here is when we would learn how bad of a free throw shooter O’Neal truly was.

1995-96 Season: 26.6 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 2.9 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.1 BPG

O’Neal missed significant time during this season. Despite missing 28 games, he averaged a double-double of 26.6 points and 11.0 rebounds to make All-NBA Third Team. The Magic won a franchise-record 60 games and finished with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. The only team with the better record was the Bulls, who won an NBA-record 72 games.

O’Neal didn’t lead the NBA in any statistical categories this year because of the injuries. With that said, he was an integral part of the team’s rise to the top. In the playoffs, the Magic met the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals before getting swept by a reinvigorated Michael Jordan.

1996-97 Season: 26.2 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 3.1 APG, 0.9 SPG, 2.9 BPG

This season began to see the turning point of O’Neal’s career in Orlando. There was speculation of a rift between O’Neal and Hardaway over money concerns. O’Neal also had been seen as growing tired of the media in town. Altogether, it led to O’Neal joining the Los Angeles Lakers, which is what many believed was his initial reason anyways. Many believed that he wanted to play in the bigger L.A. market.

In his first season with the Lakers, O’Neal didn’t lead the NBA in any major statistical category. The Lakers won 56 games and made the playoffs, but didn’t do any real damage in the playoffs. It wouldn’t be long before we saw the rise of O’Neal and a young star, Kobe Bryant, who was taken in the 1996 NBA Draft.

1997-98 Season: 28.3 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.4 BPG

After a somewhat low-key year, O’Neal was back to dominating. O’Neal led the league in field goal percentage, which would be the first of a dominant five-year stretch. The Lakers won the Pacific Division with a 61-21 record. The team finished as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference but was eliminated in the Conference Finals by the Utah Jazz. Led by Karl Malone, the Jazz beat the Lakers in a four-game sweep.

O’Neal didn’t just shoot nearly 59% from the field, he also led the league in two-point field goal percentage. He also had the highest player efficiency rating, which beat Malone, David Robinson, and Michael Jordan.

1998-99 Season: 26.3 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.7 BPG

Young superstar Kobe Bryant was starting to develop and the notion around the NBA was that the Lakers were looking like a future dynasty. The Lakers made some moves before the season began, thinking that the team would get better, which included hiring Kurt Rambis in place of Del Harris. In the lockout-shortened season, the Lakers were 31-19 but were swept by the Spurs in the second round of the playoffs.

O’Neal had an amazing individual season by leading the league in total points. O’Neal also led the league in field goal percentage, two-point field goal percentage, effective field goal percentage, made field goals, and free throw attempts. He finished with the highest player efficiency rating and had the highest offensive win shares in the league.

1999-00 Season: 29.7 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, 0.5 SPG, 3.0 BPG

Before the season, the team hired Phil Jackson as their new head coach. The change did something right as O’Neal went on to win his first MVP in his career. O’Neal scored a career-high 61 points during the season. It remains the most recent game where a player scored 60 or more points without hitting a three-point shot.

O’Neal just missed out on winning MVP by a unanimous decision. O’Neal led the league in multiple statistical categories. That included total points and points per game. He won the scoring title and once again led the league in made field goals, field goal percentage, and two-point field goal percentage. He finished as the highest efficient player for a third straight year but also had the most offensive and defensive win shares, which is why he also made the All-Defensive First Team. In the NBA playoffs, the Lakers won the championship and O’Neal won his first Finals MVP.

2000-01 Season: 28.7 PPG, 12.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.8 BPG

After winning the MVP and Finals MVP last season, O’Neal kept the training rolling the following season. O’Neal finished third in the scoring race, but led the league in field goal percentage, two-point field goal percentage, and made field goals. He finished with the most win shares among other players and was the highest efficient rated player.

The Lakers marched to the NBA Finals, where the team took on the Philadelphia 76ers, who were led by MVP Allen Iverson and Defensive Player of the Year Dikembe Mutombo. The Lakers took down the 76ers and O’Neal won his second straight Finals MVP and championship.

2001-02 Season: 27.2 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 3.0 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.0 BPG

O’Neal might not have had the greatest individual season of his career, but it was enough to help the Lakers win their third straight title. Before the season, O’Neal had surgery for a claw toe deformity. He was ready for the start of the season, but it was an ongoing issue throughout the year. He managed to still lead the league in player efficiency.

By the end of the year, the Lakers made the playoffs and made a run to the Conference Finals. In a highly contested matchup with the Sacramento Kings, the Lakers were able to get past the team in seven games in what remains a highly controversial series 20 years later. O'Neil captured his third straight Finals MVP when the Lakers downed the New Jersey Nets. Shaquille O’Neal is the last NBA player since Michael Jordan who won 3 consecutive championships and Final MVP awards.

2002-03 Season: 27.5 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 3.1 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.4 BPG

O’Neal spent a second straight year battling a knee injury. He missed 12 games for the season. The Lakers never found consistency this season, falling to the No. 5 seed when all said and done. The Lakers failed to make the NBA Finals for the first time in three years.

Individually, O’Neal finished fourth in the scoring race. He managed to crack the top ten in total points despite missing double-digit games. While it was a strong individual season, the Lakers had set such high expectations the previous three seasons that this felt like he came up short.

2003-04 Season: 21.5 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 0.5 SPG, 2.5 BPG

The Lakers picked up two veterans in Karl Malone and Gary Payton, thinking these could be the two players to help the team get back to the NBA Finals after the Spurs won in 2003. O’Neal was the prime reason for getting the players to take less money. However, the sunrise of a magical season saw O’Neal’s time in Los Angeles begin to sunset after a tough season.

For starters, O’Neal was having contractual issues with his negotiations with the Lakers brass. There was also tension growing between him and Kobe Bryant. The Lakers did make the NBA Finals but were defeated by the Detroit Pistons in a massive underdog swing. After the Finals, O’Neal was done with Los Angeles.

2004-05 Season: 22.9 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 2.7 APG, 0.5 SPG, 2.3 BPG

During the offseason, O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat for a large trade package. O’Neal liked the idea of playing in Miami because of up-and-coming star Dwayne Wade. O’Neal led the league in field goal percentage and two-point field goal percentage by shooting over 60% from the field. The Heat won the best record in the Eastern Conference with 59 wins.

O’Neal also was healthy. He played his most games since 2001 with 73 games. He made his 12th straight All-Star Game and made All-NBA First Team. The Heat made it to the Eastern Conference Finals before falling to the Pistons in seven games. It was a great first season, good enough to convince O’Neal to accept a five-year contract extension in the offseason.

2005-06 Season: 20.0 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.4 SPG, 1.8 BPG

Before taking the court the previous offseason, O’Neal told the Miami fans he would deliver a championship. He delivered on that promise this season. Despite an injured right ankle that caused him to miss 18 games, O’Neal still gave the Heat 20.0 points per game. He also led the league in field goal percentage.

The team saw turnover during the season, which included Pat Riley taking over midseason. The move helped the Heat make the playoffs and go all the way to the NBA Finals. The Heat battled the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals and came back from a 2-0 deficit to win in six games.

2006-07 Season:17.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.2 SPG, 1.4 BPG

Another injury forced O’Neal to miss significant time. O’Neal missed 35 games due to a left knee injury. The Heat had a tough time with him on the sidelines, but the team made the playoffs. However, the Chicago Bulls swept the Heat, making it the first time a defending champion was swept in the first round.

Individually speaking, this was one of O’Neal’s worst seasons. It was the first time in 13 seasons that he failed to make the second round of the playoffs. He scored below 20 points for the first time in his career. His rebounding total was low, as well as his blocks. It began to spread speculation about how much O’Neal had left in the tank and how much he could contribute to a contending team.

2007-08 Season: 13.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.5 SPG, 1.4 BPG

O’Neal averaged a career-low in points, but his rebounding total was back up. O’Neal was plagued by a diminished role in the offense, as well as fouls on the defensive side. Meanwhile, he was watching his former teammate Kobe Bryant lead the league in total points. During the season, rumors began to fly about the relationship between O’Neal and head coach Pat Riley. That led to him being traded to the Phoenix Suns after playing 33 games for the Heat.

With the Suns, he started all 28 games and averaged 12.9 points. O’Neal joined a squad that was headlined by two-time MVP Steve Nash, and Amar’e Stoudemire. However, the squad on paper didn’t live up to the hype and lost to the Spurs in the first round.

2008-09 Season: 17.8 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.4 BPG

After getting a full offseason with the Suns, he saw his second season improve. O’Neal and Nash led the Suns to a second-place finish at the All-Star break. This led to O’Neal returning to the All-Star Game after a brief hiatus. The 2009 All-Star Game was a special moment as both O’Neal and Bryant shared All-Star Game MVP honors, putting the feud in the past officially behind them.

O’Neal silenced his critics believing that he was too old to contribute at a high level. He scored a season-high 45 points during the season, which was his 49th career 40-point game. In the end, O’Neal led the league in field goal percentage for the first time since 2006 and had the least amount of turnovers per game in his career.

2009-10 Season: 12.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.3 SPG, 1.2 BPG

During the offseason, O’Neal was traded to the Cavaliers to play alongside LeBron James. During the season, O’Neal suffered a thumb injury that limited him to 53 games. It was the lowest stat line in his career in regards to points, rebounds, and blocks. With that said, O’Neal was 37 years old and played a different role on the team.

On the other side, Bryant won the regular season MVP and Finals MVP. With his fifth championship, it gave Bryant more rings than O’Neal, which led to an interesting offseason for the veteran.

2010-11 Season: 9.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.4 SPG, 1.1 BPG

Because Bryant had won his fifth championship, it was enough to help convince O’Neal to join the Celtics. Boston was coming off an appearance in the NBA Finals, where they lost to Bryant’s Lakers. Throughout the season, the marriage never really worked out. O’Neal battled an assortment of issues that limited him to 37 games. It’s unfortunate when you look back because the Celtics were 19-3 in games that O’Neal played in over 20 minutes.

O’Neal missed the first round of the playoffs as well due to injuries. Despite making a return to the Celtics in the second round, he was limited to 12 minutes of playing time. The Heat eliminated the Celtics and O’Neal retired from the NBA at the end of the season.

Career Average - 23.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.3 BPG

There is a valid argument that O’Neal is the greatest center to ever play. It’s a shame that we never saw what he could do against some of the other great centers in the league, such as Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. O’Neal was on another physical plane in comparison to these guys, as well as the foes he played against in the league.

All in all, O’Neal led the league in field goal percentage 10 times, which included leading all players who shot inside the arc as well. He led the league in effective shooting percentage six times and the entire league in scoring twice. O’Neal was truly a gifted physical specimen that we may never see replicated again. 


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