The real reason Shawn Marion will not fix what ails the Raptors’ roster right now

Here’s a tangible example of what is wrong with some of the traditional media that covers the Raptors on a regular basis, not to mention a fair number of independent bloggers, and a significant percentage of their fans.

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Exhibit A

‘The Matrix’ won’t save Raptors’ season
At 16-27 after Monday’s loss in Atlanta, the Raptors would need to go 25-14 the rest of the way to get to .500, and likely the right to be swept in the playoffs by either Cleveland, Boston, or Orlando. Jose Calderon is close to coming back, and Marion would give this roster balance that it hasn’t had since general manager Bryan Colangelo assumed control nearly three years ago. A real small forward: imagine that.

(And it is possible that this deal will never happen, since yesterday O’Neal’s right knee bruise kept him out of his 11th game in the Raptors’ last 12. Sunday, the stated reason for O’Neal’s absence was that the club wanted to keep him out of back-to-back games; on Monday, it was that “it was decided that a few more days of rehabilitation, therapy and controlled court work would be best for Jermaine to have a complete and symptom-free recovery.” Miami is unlikely to want to pick the rest of his more than US$21-million contract for this season and the more than US$22-million he is owed next season if he is damaged goods.)

No, the chief value of Marion’s theoretical arrival is that he would allow this team to embark on its latest repair job one season sooner – that is, one season before Chris Bosh opts out of his contract and is presented with the option to become a Detroit Piston, to become a New York Knick, or to win several championships with LeBron James, in Cleveland or elsewhere.

For this franchise’s franchise player to remain, the Raptors will have to have made giant strides from their current state. And that means fielding a team that does not include the rather ridiculous sight of Jamario Moon hoisting up an entirely unnecessary three-pointer with 16 seconds left on the shot clock, and 35 seconds left in a one-point game, as he did Monday.

Would Marion have taken that shot? No, sir. Marion is essentially a fully developed Moon – an athletic marvel who can rebound with the best of them, defend multiple positions, make the occasional jump shot, and finish in traffic. After Steve Nash, Marion was the key to the Colangelo seven-seconds-or-less era in Phoenix. Even at 30, with his numbers in decline, he is one of the more versatile players in basketball.

“He’s got a terrific athletic game, and does a lot of things,” Nash said when asked about Marion on Sunday. “I would guess [Marion's decline in numbers is] probably the way they play.”

That being said, as one long-time Marion-watcher puts it, “once his legs go, it’s over.” Marion has played nearly 27,000 NBA minutes, plus nearly another season in playoff games, and as gifted as he is, hops have an expiration date. The Matrix would be the best defender and most dependable wing on the roster within 30 seconds of walking through the door. He would make the Raptors better. But he is not necessarily a long-term solution.

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[Yes, Steve, that's part of the reason his production numbers have declined with Miami.]

Contrary to what Mr. Arthur thinks … Shawn Marion IS NOT a real Small Forward, in the NBA.

Shawn Marion is a hybrid basketball player who excels when he is used as an under-sized Power Forward [PF] in this league, exclusively, in a 4 Out/1 In offensive alignement, if/when: [i] He’s fortunate enough to play beside a PG like Steve Nash, who can create all kinds of easy shots/scoring opportunities for his lesser talented teammates, playing at a breakneck speed; while, [ii] Defensively, being given the task of defending the opponent’s best scoring front-court player … regardless of that player’s size …. by utilizing his quickness, agility and explosive athleticism.

However, when Shawn Marion is required to play the traditional Small Forward position, in a 3 Out/2 In alignment, like he’s been slotted into for the Heat this season, he is far from being a Top Notch Wing Player [i.e. Offensively, Defensively or Rebounding-wise], in the NBA.

Top 15 Small Forwards

[in alphabetical order, when healthy]

Anthony, Carmelo
Bryant, Kobe
Carter, Wince
Durant, Kevin
Ginobili, M
Granger, Danny
Howard, Josh
James, Lebron
Jefferson, Richard
Johnson, Joe
McGrady, Tracy
Pierce, Paul
Roy, Brandon
Turkoglu, Hedo
Wade, Dwyane

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If Raptors followers think that this team needs an upgrade at the Wing position [either #3 or #2], in order to effectively address their current roster problem[s] then they are sorely mistaken when the answer being proposed is a trade for Shawn Marion [not to mention the albatross that is Marcus Banks' salary for next 3 seasons]. 

Now that Andrea Bargnani has finally begun to emerge as the main POWER FORWARD for this team … with Chris Bosh, as the Center, and Jose Calderon, as the Point Guard … what the Raptors DO NOT need is yet ANOTHER #4/#3/#2 player who cannot create his own shot off the bounce, at a cost of $17 Mil/yr, even though he is a better version of Jamario Moon, Joey Graham, and Jason Kapono … none of whom can do this either, in the NBA.

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What the Raptors need to do instead … i.e. What’s Different … is address their current Rebounding Deficiency and, most importantly, their back-up PG spot in a permanent way [e.g. by shifting Anthony Parker there and adding a competent veteran to their current roster].

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2 Responses to “The real reason Shawn Marion will not fix what ails the Raptors’ roster right now”

  1. Johnn19 Says:

    While Marion may not be the answer, what he does is 1st remove O’Neal who with Bargnani’s emergence is now redundent, and add some skill at the SF position in scoring and rebounding, and 2nd give roster cap room for next year with his expiring contract, to aquire a SG/SF.

    Banks while not a perfect answer, and too expensive, is at least an experienced back-up PG, which will allow Solomon to be redundent, and Roko to be #3 while he gets the experience he needs for this year and next.

    I don’t believe Parker and Ukic with 9 turnovers between them give much confidence in either, and would prefer to see Parker in a back-up SG role and Ukic in garbage time during wins, although I see his potential, his time is not now.

  2. khandor Says:

    Johnn19,

    The turnover problem vs Atlanta was rooted in

    Ukic’s 5 AST : 5 TO, in 24+ MP,

    not in

    Parker’s 9 AST : 4 TO, in 40+ MP.

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    I, too, would prefer to see Parker in a back-up OG role, exclusively … however, until Bryan Colangelo shows a willingness to add a solid NBA-experienced player to this roster, in this vital role, IMO, Anthony Parker is the best available option for the Raptors.

    The skill set which Mr. Parker brings to the table, in this capacity, is most definitely serviceable.