The Return of Shaquille

With an offseason and preseason to work with his new team, Shaq has increased his scoring average to 17.8 ppg and is still pulling down a respectable 9.1 rpg..
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Rumors of Shaquille O'Neal's "death" as a fantasy player have been greatly exaggerated.

When we last left the 7'1", 325 lb. O'Neal at the end of the 2007-08 season , it seemed that this once mighty fantasy superstar was at the end of his magnificent career. After being traded to his fourth NBA team, Phoenix (from the Miami Heat), O'Neal played 28 games with the Suns and averaged just 12.9 ppg. He always seemed hurt and never flashed that contagious smile that made us all root for "The Diesel."

It seemed the end of an era was in sight.

But don't throw dirt on "Shaq" just yet.

The 2008-09 version of the "original" Superman (no Dwight Howard's Slam Dunk contest display was the second coming of the 'Man of Steel') is showing life at 35 can still be filled with fantasy.

With an offseason and preseason to work with his new team, Shaq has increased his scoring average to 17.8 ppg and is still pulling down a respectable 9.1 rpg. Even more impressive is that he is knocking down a career-high .622- percent of his free throws. And make that .733-percent over the past week.

No, he is not the same player who averaged more than 26 ppg and at least 10.7 rpg from 1993-2003, but he is still a viable center. O'Neal is the eighth-best center over the past month, averaging 21.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.9 apg and 2.0 blocks. He needs, and gets, a day off every once in a while, but he is very much a valued fantasy property.

Not bad for a man we were all ready to bury just a few months ago.

Below you will find the career numbers for the greatest fantasy center of all time (They didn't play fantasy basketball in Wilt Chamberlin's era).

YearTeamGMFG%FT%RPGAPGSPGBPGPPG
92-93 ORL 81 0.562 0.592 13.9 1.9 0.7 3.5 23.4
93-94 ORL 81 0.599 0.554 13.2 2.4 0.9 2.8 29.3
94-95 ORL 79 0.583 0.533 11.4 2.7 0.9 2.4 29.3
95-96 ORL 54 0.573 0.487 11.0 2.9 0.6 2.1 26.6
96-97 LAL 51 0.557 0.484 12.5 3.1 0.9 2.9 26.2
97-98 LAL 60 0.584 0.527 11.4 2.4 0.6 2.4 28.3
98-99 LAL 49 0.576 0.540 10.7 2.3 0.7 1.7 26.3
99-00 LAL 79 0.574 0.524 13.6 3.8 0.5 3 29.7
00-01 LAL 74 0.572 0.513 12.7 3.7 0.6 2.8 28.7
01-02 LAL 67 0.579 0.555 10.7 3.0 0.6 2 27.2
02-03 LAL 67 0.574 0.622 11.1 3.1 0.6 2.4 27.5
03-04 LAL 67 0.584 0.490 11.5 2.9 0.5 2.5 21.5
04-05 MIA 73 0.601 0.461 10.4 2.7 0.5 2.3 22.9
05-06 MIA 59 0.600 0.469 9.2 1.9 0.4 1.8 20.0
06-07 MIA 40 0.591 0.422 7.4 2.0 0.2 1.4 17.3
07-08 MIA 33 0.581 0.494 7.8 1.4 0.6 1.6 14.2
07-08 PHX 28 0.611 0.513 10.6 1.7 0.5 1.2 12.9
08-09 PHX 30 0.591 0.622 9.1 1.8 0.4 1.5 17.8


Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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