Lamar Fields | April 10th, 2020
The 2001 Los Angeles Lakers had a magical playoff run going 15-1 to win the NBA championship, but I’m here to tell why the 2000 Lakers team was better. The 2000 team went 67-15, and the 2001 team went 56-26.
Legit third scorer
Glen Rice was the 2000 Lakers’ third scorer; he averaged 15.9 points per game. While he was not the Glen Rice of old, he was more than a capable scorer. Rice shot 36% from three and 43% from the field, both down numbers him, but Rice could get hot a carry the Lakers if needed. If Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant needed rest, the Lakers could run the offense through Rice for a few minutes. It helped the Lakers know that somebody other than Shaq and Kobe could score consistently. Derek Fisher was the 2001 Lakers’ third scorer averaging 11.5 points per game.
With Rice, Ron Harper, and A.C. Green starting, it gave the 2000 Lakers good bench depth. Off the bench they had, Rick Fox, Robert Horry, Fisher, and Brian Shaw. That is a versatile bench; you are getting good defense and solid three-point shooting off the bench. Their scoring numbers weren’t great, but they played their roles very well and contributed in all aspects, much like the 90s Chicago Bulls role players. Like when Brian Shaw hit a couple of big three’s in game seven against the Portland Trail Blazers to start the comeback. The 2001 Lakers Bench was Horry, Devean George, Shaw, Tyronn Lue, and an injured Harper.
The 2001 Lakers started O’Neal, Green, Rice, Bryant, and Harper. Shaq averaged three blocks per game in the 2000 season and was engaged as I’d ever seen him on the defensive end. Green was a good team defender at the power forward position, Green and Horry made a good power forward tandem, with Horry’s length and quickness. Rice was not a great defender, but Fox was an outstanding defender. The Lakers could go to Fox if Rice was struggling on the defensive end.
The Lakers started big guards in the backcourt: Harper and Bryant were both 6’6″. Bryant would guard the speedy smaller point guards. He would use his size and length to disrupt the point guards from starting the offense. Bryant made the first team All-Defense in 2000 as well. Harper was a veteran and knew how to play smart team defense.
The 2000 Lakers finished first in defensive rating with 98.2 and sixth in opponents points per game at 92.3. The 2001 team finished 21st in defensive rating with 104.8 and 23rd in opponents points per game 97.2.
The 2001 Lakers will go down in history as one of the best teams ever, because of the 15-1 playoff record, the 2000 team went 15-8. The 2001 team caught fire at the right time; their defense was great, Shaq and Kobe did what they do, but the role players seemed to hit every open shot.
The 2000 team had up and down playoffs but won the NBA finals as well. The 2001 team may go down in history as one of the best teams ever, but I think the 2000 team was better. Also, Shaq was MVP in 2000.
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