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Dime’s All-Shaq Teams

With the sudden retirement of Shaquille O’Neal from the NBA, we got to thinking about all the great players that the Big Social Security Applier played with during his 19 seasons in the league. There’s a long list of All-Stars, but in making the list, we ask this question: Who was at their best while playing with Shaq? For example, the Kevin Garnett that O’Neal played with this season won’t rank as highly as the 2007-08 Amar’e Stoudemire that he shared the court with in his Phoenix stint.

Obviously, we’ll save all the center slots for the Big Aristotle himself, but without further adieu, we present the First, Second and Third All-Shaq teams:

First Team
PG – Steve Nash
SG – Kobe Bryant
SF – LeBron James
PF – Amar’e Stoudemire
C – Shaquille O’Neal

During O’Neal’s brief 2007-08 tenure in Phoenix, Steve Nash was a year removed from his second MVP award while putting up similar points, assists and ridiculous shooting percentages – that’s an easy one. Here’s where it gets tough. Apologies to a young Dwyane Wade that won a title with O’Neal, but as for shooting guards go, Kobe Bryant was arguably the greatest player the big guy has ever played with. And LeBron James was the last season’s MVP while playing with Shaq, so the small forward slot goes to him. As for Stoudemire, I’ll take him as being the best power forward O’Neal has played with in the frontcourt.

Second Team
PG – Anfernee Hardaway
SG – Dwyane Wade
SF – Paul Pierce
PF – Kevin Garnett
C – Shaquille O’Neal

Since we’re fitting players into their positions or something close to them, Wade falls to the second team slot because he isn’t a small forward (though Wade is arguably a better teammate to Shaq than LeBron because they won the NBA Finals in 2006) and he didn’t help O’Neal win three consecutive championships as did Bryant. Joining Wade in the backcourt is Shaq’s first star teammate of his career, Penny Hardaway. In the forward spots come Paul Pierce and Garnett, who could’ve shown up higher on the list had they not played with O’Neal so late in their respective careers. They were still pretty good this past season, however.

Third Team
PG – Rajon Rondo
SG – Eddie Jones
SF – Nick Anderson
PF – Karl Malone
C – Shaquille O’Neal

Rajon Rondo kicks off the third team as the second of two O’Neal’s teammates who averaged more than 11 assists per game. Back in Shaq’s early Lakers days, Eddie Jones was a pretty consistent scorer, as was Nick Anderson in the first few of the Orlando years. While Karl Malone was at the tail end of his career, he still averaged 13 points, nine rebounds and four assists in his single season with the Lakers.

Honorable Mention: Horace Grant, Scott Skiles, Nick Van Exel, Ray Allen, Robert Horry

Horace Grant was the guy doing the dirty work alongside O’Neal in Orlando, and in Shaq’s rookie year, Scott Skiles averaged an impressive nine assists per outing. Nick Van Exel was no slouch as the Lakers point, and Ray Allen is still one of the best shooters in the league. Robert Horry gets a nod for the sole reason of hitting clutch three-pointers in important playoff games. That led to more title rings.

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