Few nicknames have been more enjoyable than The Matrix, which immediately conjures images of a long and gangling Shawn Marion who at times appeared to defy the laws of physics, both in terms of how he moved and the general length of his limbs while in flight. Marion has spent the better part of the past 15 years captivating fans with amazing displays of pure athleticism and ugly shooting mechanics.
And now The Matrix is helping a Cleveland Cavaliers team reload for what many hope will be a substantial playoff run. Despite having lost some of the athleticism that has defined much of his career, Marion remains an intriguing role player who willingly gave up higher salaries from other teams for a chance at a championship beside LeBron James.That’s simply what happens when you have LeBron on your roster … veterans line up for a chance to take the minimum salary. I suppose when someone has already earned more than $133 million during their career, a sacrifice of this nature becomes a little more palatable.
But at 36 years of age, and already having an NBA championship ring from the 2011 Dallas Mavericks under his belt, one has to ask what Marion has remaining in the tank? Is it possible that he is little more than his reputation at this point in his career?
And how does he fit within the current Cleveland Cavaliers roster?
With Marion averaging more than 31 minutes and appearing in 76 regular season games, the Dallas Mavericks finished with a record of 49-33, which was enough for them to earn the eighth seed in the tough Western Conference. His minutes dropped to 27.6 per game come playoffs, and the Mavericks came closer than any other team to defeating the soon-to-be champion San Antonio Spurs in seven games.
He also entered the offseason as Tom Ziller’s 68th best 2014 free agent for 2014. Looking at that alone, it seems like the Cavaliers got an exceptional deal.
The hope is that Marion can provide solid minutes backing up both forward spots. Last year he split his minutes almost equally.
Out the 10 most used lineups that featured him, Marion played roughly 48 percent of his minutes in traditional systems that featured two bigs, and the remaining 52 percent as a power forward alongside one center. During his minutes at small forward the Mavericks were outscored, out-rebounded, committed more fouls, gave up a higher number of 3-pointers (but shot a higher percentage from 3), and committed more turnovers than their opponent.
Effectively, any lineup that used Marion as a small forward was a net negative for Dallas.
With Marion at power forward, the Mavericks were still outscored and committed more turnovers than the opposition, but at least were better than the opposition on steals, assists, fouls, and rebounds.
Overall, Marion himself had an even net rating (offensive rating minus defensive rating) during his time spent on the court, and finished with the third lowest WS/48 (wins shared per 48 minutes) of his career. Simply put, Marion was not a very effective player for Dallas … at best his stats indicate that he was a net neutral.
Thankfully, unless things go terribly wrong for the Cavaliers, Marion should be little more than a luxury bench player behind LeBron James and Mike Miller at small forward, and Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson at power forward.
Last year, the Cavaliers would have been lucky to have a player such as Shawn Marion starting 76 games for them. Now he is little more than a 10th man, and is just another reminder how far Cleveland has come.