DALLAS — Despite his unorthodox shooting motion and under-the-radar offensive game, four-time All-Star forward Shawn Marion has found a way to thrive in Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle’s system during the last four seasons.
Last season, during the Mavericks’ 41-41 march through the schedule while falling short of the playoffs for the first time since 2000, Marion continued to perform at a high level, averaging 12.1 points a game despite rarely having a play called to get the ball into his hands. He also led the Mavs in rebounding for a second straight season, snatching down 7.8 boards an outing while starting all 67 of his appearances.
But, just two seasons after playing a vital role on the Mavericks’ championship squad, Marion walked away from the hardwood feeling incomplete while questioning the effort of his younger and inexperienced teammates.
“You know, when you become a professional athlete, you set standards for yourself and your team,” Marion said while putting the ’12-13 campaign into perspective.
“You go out here and you try to leave it all (on the court),” he continued. “I don’t know no other way to play than to leave it on the floor. You can’t control the ball going in the hoop, but you can control your effort. You know, I think when you’re not able to go out there and give it your all and give it 110 percent then something is wrong. Maybe you need to sit down. … Being a professional athlete and dealing with the ups and downs we’ve had this season, you’ve got to look at yourself and say, ‘Are you giving it your all? Are you doing what’s within your control to go out there and just compete and leave it out on the floor?’ Like I said, you can control certain things, but certain things you can’t control. Effort is the only thing you really can control. You can’t control the ball going in. You’re going to get a turnover here and there or whatever, vice versa, but you can control your effort.”
Effort certainly wasn’t an issue for the 35-year-old Marion, who battled through a multitude of minor injuries while leading the young Mavs a season ago alongside 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki and eight-time All-Star Vince Carter. He now hopes to get even more assistance after the Mavs’ near-complete roster shakeup to bring in a more experienced supporting cast.
Already starring as the Mavs’ heart and soul on the defensive end of the floor while often guarding the opposing team’s best perimeter scoring option, Marion’s life on offense may now be made easier by the addition of veteran point guard Jose Calderon, who signed in Dallas this summer via free agency after splitting his eighth NBA season with Toronto and Detroit, posting 11.3 points and 7.1 assists an outing. And with a pass-first floor general now at the helm, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says Marion should be able to thrive even more so than in previous seasons as the new-look Mavs eye a return to the playoffs.
“Shawn Marion is going to love playing with Calderon, because Shawn knows how to use space as well as anybody in the game and we didn’t have a guy that could get him the ball. Dirk and Vince were the two best passers to get the ball to ‘Trix, so I think there’s just so many things to get excited about,” Cuban explained earlier this offseason in an interview with ESPN 103.3 FM.
The two teamed together briefly in Toronto while Marion appeared in 27 games for the Raptors following a trade from Miami during the ’08-09 campaign. Calderon will now be handed the responsibility of getting Marion’s production back to that level, after assisting the versatile forward to averages of 14.3 points and 8.3 rebounds during that short stint.
“I think we’ve got a team that knows how to play basketball,” Calderon said while comparing Marion’s new teammates to their counterparts last season. “There’s other teams that just rely on good players, but I think we can be a really good basketball team. And when we play as a team it’s going to be easier to get to where we want to be, so I’m real excited. … We are a team. We have to work all together as a team to be successful, and I’m here to help them all they want.”