Dallas Mavericks: Is Shawn Marion or Vince Carter the Better Hall of Fame Candidate?


Photo Credit: Keith Allison (Flickr.com)

The Dallas Mavericks currently have one sure-fire Hall of Famer on their roster.

That would be Dirk Nowitzki, who had a decade-long run as a top-10 player that only appears to be ending now. After everything Nowitzki has accomplished, there’s no doubt that he’ll make the Hall of Fame on his first try. As for fellow Mavericks Shawn Marion and Vince Carter, they’re both right on the bubble.

Both have had good careers, but neither is a sure thing to get into the Hall. With that said, both players have played pretty well this year, indicating that they might have a little more in the tank than we thought.

Will either one make the Hall? Is there any chance they both get in? Let’s break the Mavericks stars down, and see if we can’t come to some conclusions on this issue.

For Marion, the case is stronger than one might think. After struggling with the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat towards the end of 2000s, Marion completely reinvented himself with the Mavericks, being a quality starting forward far longer than we might have thought back in 2008. He also played a key role on the 2011 title team, being either their third- or fourth-best player, depending on how much you credit you want to give Jason Terry.

Carter, on the other hand, has shown considerable wear-and-tear in the latter half of his career. As recently as 2009, Carter was a putting up 20 points a game for the New Jersey Nets. But once his prime ended, his play fell off pretty hard. He was decent for the Orlando Magic in 2009-10, but in his last few seasons with the Phoenix Suns and the Mavs, he’s looked like a pale shadow of his former self.

The 2011-12 season was the nadir, as he scored a career low in points per game and looked pretty close to washed up. Admittedly, Carter has been marginally better this season, but he’s still well past his prime, only contributing as a role player, while Marion continues to be one of the biggest contributors on the team.

But who was better in their prime? That’s where things get really tough. Marion was never as mind-blowing as Carter was at the peak of Vinsanity with the Toronto Raptors. During those days, Carter looked like the next Michael Jordan and we thought he could have the type of career that Kobe Bryant ended up having. That never happened, though. Carter continued to score tons of points and make All-Star teams, but he was never a great leader and his teams typically floundered in the playoffs.

This is hardly enough to kill someone’s Hall of Fame case, but Carter developed a nasty reputation as one of the most selfish players in the NBA after he slacked off in his final season with the Raptors in order to force a trade to the Nets. Once he joined the Nets, his numbers improved immensely, leading many to believe he was playing poorly on purpose to get a trade. The fact that he severely reduced his trade value in the process only made matters worse. Carter’s scoring ability was astonishing, but his unlikable attitude and lack of playoff success are big marks against him.

Marion was never as big a star as Carter, but his numbers are better than most would remember, as he averaged close to 20 points and 10 rebounds per game year in and year out during his peak seasons with the Suns. He was one of the best rebounding small forwards in the game and his unconventional offensive game (just look at that shot!) flummoxes opposing defenses to this day. He was also selected to four All-Star games, and made two All-NBA teams.

The reason why Marion hasn’t gotten more credit is that he’s been habitually overshadowed by his teammates. During his time with the Suns, he was never the player getting the most press. In the early years, it was all about Stephon Marbury, and in the Mike D’Antoni era, Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire were the guys who everyone was talking about. He was never the center of media attention, even as he was putting up great numbers and being nearly unstoppable on offense.

Admittedly, Nash’s great passing was responsible for some of that, but Marion’s excellent play on the Suns cannot be ignored. He was a key part of the Seven-Seconds-Or-Less-era Suns, and he should get his due.

The best case for Marion may come in the advanced stats department. He put up more than 11 win shares (a stat measuring how many of a team’s wins a given player was responsible for) in five different seasons, including a robust 14.6 in 2005-06, good for seventh in the league that year. He has the 48th most win shares of all-time, and while that may not make him a top 50 player, he was an extremely efficient player, even when taking a relatively high volume of shots. That has to be considered when looking over his Hall Of Fame case.

Between these two players, I’d say Marion has had the better career. He wasn’t as famous or as athletic as Carter, but he did more with the gifts he had and by all accounts, was a much better teammate. Marion definitely deserves to be a Hall Of Famer and as people pay more attention to stats like win shares, I suspect he’ll get his due.

As for Carter, I’ll put him in, too, if only because of how transcendent he was during his peak years with the Raptors. I think it takes him considerably longer to get in, though. We’ll always remember his slam dunk in the 2000 Olympics and his great ability to put points on the board, but were also going to remember his selfishness and how much he underachieved considering how much talent he had.

With Marion, we’re simply going to remember a great player who had an extremely original game, and contributed significantly to a championship team. Both players should make the Hall, but Marion had the better career and he deserves to go in first.

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