Stacking up Shaq's teammates

Who is the Diesel's best teammate ever?

Updated: June 1, 2005, 4:47 PM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
Between his three teams and 13 seasons in the NBA, Shaquille O'Neal has had a mob of teammates – nearly 100, in fact. Players as diverse as Tree Rollins, Dennis Rodman, Bison Dele and Greg Kite played at least one season with the Diesel. Three others (Tom Tolbert, Steve Kerr and John Salley) are in the booth, while two former colleagues (Scott Skiles and Byron Scott) now coach against him.

Right now, the Diesel is enjoying his new amigos in Miami and extolling the virtues of Dwyane Wade compared to former cohorts like Kobe Bryant and Penny Hardaway. But how do Wade and company size up against the Kobes and Pennys of the world? Let's take a look back through history and see. I devised a formula to rate each of Shaq's former and current mates and ranked them from top to bottom. The formula focused on two aspects of performance: How well the player performed during his career as Shaq's teammate, and how good that player was at his peak with Team Shaq.

For the first part, I began with each player's Player Efficiency Rating (PER). I then subtracted 8.5 and squared it, which weighted great seasons much more heavily than a mediocre performance. Finally, I added that number for all the seasons that player was O'Neal's teammate and played a minimum of 500 minutes.

For example, Corie Blount played with Shaq for two seasons and had a PER of 11.9 in each season. Subtract 8.5 from 11.9 and square the result and you get 11.6, add it over two seasons and that's 23.2 points for Blount.

For the second part, I squared the player's PER in his best season with Shaq and added that to his score. For Blount, that added 141.6 points to his score, for a total of 164.8.

Also, since PER doesn't account for defense beyond blocks and steals, I increased or decreased the rating of certain players who were especially good or bad in this aspect. The players who received an increase included Robert Horry, Derek Fisher and Horace Grant (Orlando years only); the "decreased" players were Glen Rice, Dennis Scott, Christian Laettner and Slava Medvedenko.

After repeating the same rating exercise we did with Blount for a hundred other players, we can now present the top 40 teammates of Shaq's career thus far. Since Casey Kasem wouldn't count them down for us, you'll have to settle for this list instead:

40. Kareem Rush (L.A., 2002-04)
Will go down in history as the second-best Laker named Kareem. But for one glorious night against Minnesota in the 2004 conference finals, he was The Man.

39. Tyronn Lue (L.A., 1998-2001)
Picked up the nickname "the Answering Machine" for his defense on Allen Iverson in the 2001 Finals. Also provided the inspiration for the Jar-Jar Binks character in the "Star Wars" movies.

38. Tree Rollins (Orlando, 1993-95)
Tree was older than many forests by the time he was backing up Shaq in Orlando, but he held his own enough for Orlando to make the Finals.

37. Jeff Turner (Orlando, 1992-96)
Pedestrian talent was one of the rare few to play with both Jordan ('84 Olympics) and Shaq (in Orlando) yet not own a championship ring.

36. Bryon Russell (L.A., 2003-04)
Had a solid year shooting 3s off the bench as a Laker, but he did more to foil Shaq while he was a member of the Jazz.

35. J.R. Rider (L.A., 2000-01)
An ardent recycler who creatively found an alternate use for discarded Coke cans, Rider was a decent scorer off the bench for half a season until the Lakers got sick of his act.

34. Brian Shaw (Orlando 1994-96, L.A. 1999-2003)
Had an alley-oop play with Shaq that O'Neal nicknamed "Shaw-Shaq redemption." Otherwise, his main contribution was accidentally banking a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to start the Lakers' Game 7 comeback against Portland in 2000.

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