Shawn Marion finally reaches NBA Finals with Dallas Mavericks

Posted by on May 26th, 1:00 am

The Matrix is on the cusp of a championship in Dallas playing the role of defensive stopper. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The Matrix is on the cusp of a championship in Dallas playing the role of defensive stopper. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Steve Nash’s odyssey for a championship is well known in these parts, but let’s not forget about his old running mate Shawn Marion’s quest now that the Matrix is four wins away from becoming an NBA champion.

Marion combined with Nash and Amare Stoudemire to form a devastating Big Three that perfectly fit Mike D’Antoni’s style, and his monster 2005-06 when he averaged 21.8 and 11.9 without Amare solidified himself as an all-time Suns great.

Marion never felt completely respected in Phoenix with so much credit going to Nash and Stoudemire and when the team did not want to give him a three-year, $60 million extension, he wanted out as the 2007-08 season began.

That Suns eventually granted that wish by rolling the dice on the Shaq trade, and Marion became a shell of his former self in stops with Miami and Toronto.

Now onto Dallas and at the age of 33, Matrix has finally embraced the super role player role. He can still explode for 26 and eight as he did in Wednesday’s clincher, but his primary value comes in the form of being an energy guy and defensive stopper, a crucial responsibility for a team that just faced Kevin Durant and likely will be seeing LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the Finals. If only he had come to peace with this role in the Valley.

Marion may have been undervalued during his time in Phoenix, as his Wins Produced numbers suggest, but at the same time it’s tough to be too undervalued when you’re consistently leading the team in minutes and near the top in shot attempts while filling out the entire stat sheet.

Perhaps it’s just the fact that Matrix didn’t play as glamorous of a role as Nash and Amare did. Instead of running the offense or scoring in isolation, he was doing all the little things, defending every position a la Grant Hill (often making up for Nash’s porous ‘D’), running the floor, stealing, blocking and scoring without plays being called for him.

Steve Nash will always define the Seven Seconds or Less Era, but Shawn Marion provided the glue that held those teams together and made that run so special.

Not quite six degrees of separation for Steve Nash

This Mavericks team represents every stage of Steve Nash’s career.

There’s Jason Kidd, the “veteran” point guard with Phoenix back when Nash was a rookie somehow still chugging along and playing solid basketball at the ripe old age of 38.

Then there’s Nash’s old running mate and best friend Dirk Nowitzki, the only remaining Maverick from Nash’s time in Dallas. One can only speculate whether that duo would have won a championship together by now, but their success apart with three combined MVPs speaks for itself.

Finally there’s Marion, Nash’s connection to the SSOL years in Phoenix and a player who proved to be a perfect complement to Nash on both ends of the court.

As for Nash’s future, Dallas has always been mentioned as one of the teams that would potentially be most interested in pursuing a deal for Two Time if the Suns dangle him on the open market.

His career really would come full circle if we were to wind up back in a point guard battle with Kidd as vets, playing as a complementary star to Dirk with Marion filling in the cracks.

If Nash is dealt, I bet it will be to a team that fell just short in the postseason and feels Two Time could be the missing piece.

At this point such a deal would seem unlikely since Kidd and J.J. Barea have played so well and another short guard, Jason Terry, logs lots of minutes. That’s not to mention the talent of Roddy Beaubois, a player who would likely be in such a deal.

However, if Dallas falls short against Miami/Chicago and Cuban feels Nash could be the final piece, perhaps the Mavs would vault back to the top of that list.

All that will take care of itself later in the summer, as right now the Suns maintain the viewpoint that Nash is their franchise player and they will continue to build around him so long as he can dribble a basketball.

For the Mavs, meanwhile, legacies are at stake as Dirk, Marion and Kidd play for their first title.

Michael Schwartz founded ValleyoftheSuns in October 2008 and is the owner/editor emeritus of the site. He is currently working toward his MBA in sports business at San Diego State University.

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Tags: Dallas Mavericks · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Analysis · Steve Nash

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Shmaaash // May 26, 2011 at 1:17 am

    Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids

  • 2 Steve // May 26, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Marion was not undervalued as a Sun. He was paid very handsomely to be a part of SSoL. I think his value was fairly assessed here. We didn’t overpay him, and we didn’t underpay him. If “value” can be considered more than simply pay, then I still don’t think he was undervalued. He was a consistent regular season performer who was just as consistent of a choke-job in the playoffs. Guys like that don’t deserve endless praise and adulation (see Amare Stoudemire). The great ones who deserve all the love of a city get better in the playoffs (Jordan, Paul, Nowitzki, Bryant, Bird, Thomas, Magic, Olajuwon, Duncan, Robinson, and Barkley and KJ for the home love). Those guys OWNED their cities in their day, and rightfully so. Marion was never like that. He stayed the same or got worse in virtually every playoff game. I can’t even recall one HUGE playoff game from him (40-15, 30-20, something along those lines).

    Anyway, I’m going to be rooting for the Mavs. As much as I hate them, I don’t want another “big 3″ to win a championship as a result of collusion and migration to the coastlines. As strange as it may sound, Dallas winning would bode well for the Suns future. The Heat winning would virtually eliminate the Suns from contention for the foreseeable future. I think the Heat will win, but I’ll be pulling for Dallas.

  • 3 Xavier // May 26, 2011 at 11:52 am

    @ steve matrix logged a 20-20 game against the hated spurs the game amare was suspended for leaving the bench during a so call altercation.

  • 4 Michael Schwartz // May 26, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    He was also a beast against the Clippers in 2005-06, tossing up a 20/15, 32/19, 36/20, 34/9 and 30/9 before going for 24/13 and 19/19 the first two games against Dallas.

  • 5 Steve // May 26, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Those are some monster games. So, I guess he might have had some success in a few contests, but even in 05-06 with all those great games just mentioned, his playoff PER was 20.9 (highest of his career in the playoffs, but well below his 23.6 in the regular season and barely ahead of his 19.7 career average including this past few dismal years). While 20.9 is nothing to sneeze at, there are usually at least 10 guys above 22 in every playoff season. His career playoff PER is 17.3, while his playoff WS/48 is 0.124 compared to 0.162 in the regular season.

    I could go through every metric and point out the same thing. Marion’s numbers dip in the playoffs. I am surprised to see he had that many monsters, but even still, looking at the advanced metrics confirms my feelings.

  • 6 mr Z // May 26, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    nash! your friends in nba final dirk, and marion . go practice harder and tell the suns management to bring good players not let them go. amare, marion, joe Johnson or you should leave. im not mad at you. i am mad at the suns management plus so many drafts have been sold for money consideration. rondo, lue deng, and gortat could be good fit with amare at 4

  • 7 Michael Schwartz // May 26, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Yeah, I overall agree with you, although he was a monster in that Clippers series in particular and still pretty darn good overall in the 2005-06 playoffs even if it wasn’t as good as his career year regular season. Marion was fantastic at filling a stat sheet, but since he could never create his own shot he was never going to be the kind of player who could take over in the postseason.

  • 8 chris // May 27, 2011 at 2:21 am

    Its funny, all I can remember about Marion was how awful he was come playoff time. Of all the Suns between 05-07 Matrix was by far the one I yelled at the most. But I just looked over his playoff stats and game logs…. and he was pretty damn good. So I’m wondering if I was too critical back then or maybe this is one of those cases where the stats are misleading.

  • 9 Steve // May 27, 2011 at 8:03 am

    @Chris- I’m with you. His stats with the Suns in the playoffs were better than what I was expecting to see, but I think my point I made earlier still holds true. Every year, Marion’s efficiency dipped in the playoffs. He never elevated his game to the situation. He got worse when it counted. This is what I hated about Amare last year. Amare played very well in the playoffs last year, don’t get me wrong. But he couldn’t match his regular season performance when it mattered the most. The greats elevate their game when it counts.

    By the way, did anybody else listen to the Mike & Mike clip of Scottie saying LeBron has a chance at being as great as Jordan? This is the type of moronic nonsense I was afraid of. LeBron hasn’t even won a single championship yet, and people are already crowning him the best player of all time (even though guys like Jordan, Wilt, and David Robinson are all still better statistically with multiple rings to back it up). LeBron was called the King before he even made it to the Finals.

    It’s a joke how much credit people are willing to give to a guy who has done nothing but fill up stat sheets, especially when he resorted to teaming up with the second-best player alive in order to get himself some rings. LeBron, to this point in his career, has been one of the five greatest players ever from a statistical standpoint, but until he surpasses Jordan statistically (which he stands virtually no chance of doing for anything other than career numbers, and that will only happen because he will have about five more years in the league than Jordan as long as he stays healthy) and wins six rings, why would he even be entered into that conversation?

    Statistically, David Robinson is probably the third or fourth best player all time. Most people wouldn’t realize this, but he was an absolute animal. Plus, Robinson has multiple rings. But Jordan was so great, David Robinson’s induction to the hall was an afterthought because Jordan was in the same class. LeBron isn’t even better than David Robinson statistically (or by rings either), so how can he be compared to Jordan?

    Btw, I think the reason Robinson is an afterthought for so many people is that he wasn’t a prototypical star. He didn’t get in people’s faces. He didn’t ride the refs. He didn’t trash talk. He didn’t curse. We talk about how classy Grant Hill is all the time, but David Robinson was easily just as classy, and probably even moreso. I hate the Spurs with a passion, but that man deserves so much more praise than he gets.

    /rant

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