To pump up the depth on the roster, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Shawn Marion have agreed to a deal that will bring the unique veteran to a squad that is intent on winning a championship next year. Cleveland, of course, has added several pieces after signing their hometown hero, LeBron James, in July. As such, Cleveland has been trying to put together a powerhouse of a team that not only has All-Stars James, Kyrie Irving, and their incoming power forward, Kevin Love, but role players as well. Shawn Marion is another player the Cleveland Cavaliers want to play a key role, but it is unlikely he will garner many minutes this season.
Without question, throughout his 15 years in the league, Marion has been one of the most unique players in the league. His 6’7″ lanky build, in conjunction with a quirky shooting style, has made him a key component to his time in Phoenix and Dallas, who he helped win a championship for in 2011. His career averages of 15.8 ppg, 9 rpg, 1.6 spg and 1.1 bpg do not nearly tell the tale of his career. His unique shooting style has made it difficult for defenses to prepare for his shot. On the flip-side, due to his lengthy wingspan, he has shown that he can guard most players on the floor.
Cleveland elected to pick Marion up because of his defensive acumen. Cleveland was in the middle of the pack last year in terms of defensive efficiency, finishing 16th in points allowed. In addition, as Cleveland was one of the youngest teams last year, Marion can be a veteran leader who will help a team with limited playoff experience.
The problem with the Marion move is that it is unlikely that he will see much playing time. At small forward, it is likely that he will be the main backup to LeBron James and maybe Kevin Love at power forward once he arrives. Considering Marion will be a backup to two players who, likely, will have the longest amount of minutes, there is only so much he will be able to contribute to this team. Last season, James averaged 38 mpg and Love averaged 36 mpg. Marion is accustomed to playing over 30 mpg. Therefore, it will be an adjustment for the four-time All-Star, not only to be removed from the starting lineup, but by only averaging 20 mpg at the most. Certainly, there are times Marion will be playing alongside James, which will help elevate their defensive presence, but it will not be a significant amount.
Another aspect to be considered by signing Marion is his age. Coming into this season, Marion will be 36 years old. While last season he only missed six games, he is not getting any younger. He may be fortunate to avoid injuries, but as evidenced by last season, Marion is slowing down. Offensively, he is a shell of his former self, as he has struggled to average double figures per game. More importantly to the Cavs, his rebounding numbers have dipped as well. His defense remains his most important asset, but with his body slowing down, his timing, eventually, will start to fall out of sync. Moreover, Marion is a player who has shown that he plays best with high quality minutes. With it unlikely that he will receive many minutes this season, he will, essentially, be an average, aging veteran role player, who continues to show his decline.
The Cleveland Cavaliers will have one of the best rosters, top to bottom, this upcoming season. Between three current All-Stars, a former All-Star in Marion, and plenty of role players to boot, they should easily place within the top three in the Eastern Conference. Shawn Marion is a decent pick up with what the Cleveland Cavaliers want, but soon enough, they and the league will realize that he is unlikely to play the role they wish him to. The truth hurts, and at this point, Marion is slowing down. As proven from last season on the Mavericks, he is not the consistent contributor he used to be, particularly on the offensive end. His sole purpose for this squad will be used as a defensive specialist, while placed on a weak offense in the second unit. Regardless of his deficiencies, Marion will serve as a veteran leader who can help this amped-up Cleveland Cavaliers team vie for a championship.
Commentary by Simon Mounsey