1. Jermaine O’Neal
O’Neal was the 17th overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft by the Trail Blazers right out of high school. Portland was an annual playoff team, and the 6’11 big man struggled to get minutes early in his career. It was not until he was traded to the Pacers in 2000 that things took off.
O’Neal instantly became a starter and finished second in the league in blocks per game. In year two with the Pacers, his scoring took a leap, which started a run of six straight All-Star appearances. Over that stretch, he averaged 20.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 2.4 blocks in 36.2 minutes per game. O’Neal was unquestionably one of the league’s best big men before he started to slow down.
His last prime season was in 2007, but he did not join the Golden State Warriors until 2013. The 6’11 big man played for four different teams between leaving the Pacers and joining the Dubs.
When he arrived in the Bay Area, the 35-year-old could only play 20 minutes per game. He was still productive as he averaged 7.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks, but a wrist injury limited him to 44 games.
That would be Jermaine O’Neal’s final NBA season. He received interest in the 2014 offseason, but the 6’11 big man did not play. The Dubs won the championship the year after he retired, and Golden State supporters missed the best of JO.
The Golden State Warriors have signed many past their prime players, and some deals have worked better than others. Who will be the next veteran to join the squad? Stay tuned to find out.