Shaquille O'Neal: Ranking Each of His 8 Postseasons with the Lakers
This article will rank Shaquille O’Neal’s eight postseasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Shaq provided Lakers fans with eight memorable seasons, helping the team win three straight championships between 2000-2002.
Shaq played the best basketball of his illustrious career during his eight postseasons with the Lakers, so ranking them was no easy task.
So, let’s go to the power rankings and see which one of Shaq’s playoff runs with the Lakers I chose as the best of the best.
The Los Angeles Lakers laid an egg during the 1999 postseason. The team was embarrassingly swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the conference semifinals.
In eight playoff games, Shaq averaged a little over 26 points a game, his second lowest playoff scoring average as a member of the Lakers. In the semifinals against the Spurs, O’Neal was outplayed by Tim Duncan, who averaged 29 points in the series compared to Shaq’s 23.
In Shaquille O’Neal’s first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, the team made it to the Western Conference semifinals, before falling to Karl Malone and John Stockton in five games.
In nine playoff games, Shaq averaged 26 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, including a 46-point effort against the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round.
Definitely nothing to sneeze at, but nowhere near the best.
Shaquille O’Neal’s last season with the Los Angeles Lakers saw the team defeated by the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals. Having to share the ball with Kobe Bryant, Gary Payton and Karl Malone, Shaq’s overall playoff production dipped, compared to his other seasons with the Lakers.
Shaq averaged 21 points, 13 rebounds and two assists, but he finished the postseason leading all players with a 59 percent field-goal percentage.
Shaquille O’Neal helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to 61 victories in 1998, as the team made it to the Western Conference Finals.
But for the second straight season, the Lakers fell to the Utah Jazz.
Shaq averaged 30 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and shot over 60 percent from the field during the 1998 postseason. The 30-point average was a two point increase from his 28-point average during the regular season.
While Shaquille O’Neal’s overall postseason production remained about the same as it did in 2002 (27 points, 14 rebounds and three assists), the team failed to win their fourth straight championship, falling to the San Antonio Spurs in the conference semifinals.
Also, at this point it was very debatable as to whether Shaq was the best player on the team. In 12 playoff games, Kobe Bryant averaged 32 points, five rebounds and five assists.
The 2002 postseason was just more of the same old things: Shaquille O’Neal putting up stellar playoff numbers and the Los Angeles Lakers hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Shaq averaged 28 points, 12 rebounds and shot 52 percent from the field, as he collected his third straight Finals MVP.
While Shaquille O’Neal’s 2001 postseason wasn’t quite as impressive as his 2000 version, it was darn close.
Once again, Shaq averaged 30 points and 15 rebounds, as the Los Angeles Lakers went a historic 15-1 in the postseason, en route to winning their second consecutive championship.
In the conference semifinals against the Sacramento Kings, Shaq had back-to-back games of at least 40 points and 20 rebounds.
The entire 1999-2000 season and postseason was the masterpiece of Shaquille O’Neal’s 19 year career. For starters, Shaq averaged 29 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and three blocks, leading the Lakers to 67 victories and winning his one and only MVP award.
But the best was yet to come. In the postseason, O’Neal averaged 30 points and 15 rebounds, as the Los Angeles Lakers captured their first championship since 1988.
Shaq won his first of three consecutive NBA Finals MVPs, after he averaged 38 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks in the NBA Finals.