The 17th overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft is still contributing to an NBA franchise. The former Portland Trail Blazer, Indiana Pacer, Toronto Raptor, Miami Heat, Boston Celtic, and most recently Phoenix Sun center Jermaine O’Neal is now taking his talents to the Bay Area.
O’Neal, the most improved player in the NBA in 2002 and six-time all-star has peaked in terms of what he formerly produced, but at 6’11”, the veteran can still provide a valuable service to the Warriors. Last season O’Neal averaged 8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 18.7 minutes of play off the bench.
Entering his 18th season, O’Neal will be asked to back up Andrew Bogut at the start of the season while true backup center Festus Ezeli recovers from knee surgery. O’Neal will likely play less than 19 minutes per game on the Warriors, but if center Andrew Bogut gets injured early into the 2013-14 campaign then O’Neal will be forced to play a more major role.
O’Neal will provide depth in the frontcourt and will be one of the few Warriors big man who can provide defensive and rebounding production. On top of his on-court production, O’Neal will also provide the Warriors with another experienced locker room presence.
O’Neal will likely serve as a player-coach both producing himself and also teaching young players such as Ezeli. O’Neal said on being a player coach, “ I think the best thing about my position is that i’ve seen every obstacle that you can see in a professional career. I’ve seen many, many ups and downs and many, many emotional sad and happy days.”