The NBA Draft will commence later this week and the free agency market will open soon thereafter. This is the time of year that every team is looking for ways to immediately improve and all the fans are arguing with other fans over which team is the best fit for the best available players. This offseason, with what is being heralded as the best draft class in a decade and a handful of franchise-level free agents, the conversations and maneuvering are certainly not lacking. But there is one aspect of roster construction that seems to get lost in the mix from time to time: hanging onto key players already on the roster.
Every team has players becoming free agents, and the Dallas Mavericks are no exception. As they consider their options — from marquee names like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony to role-filling rotation players to improve the last few spots — it’s important to make sure their own key free agents do not feel forgotten. The first name that comes to mind — maybe not for everyone, but for a considerable number of those concerned — is Shawn Marion.
Even amongst Mavericks fans, it seems that Marion’s value to the team is downplayed or overlooked far too often. The truth is there is no doubt that the banner for the 2010-11 championship would not be hanging from the rafters in the American Airlines Center without Marion on the team to contain the best player on the other team throughout that entire postseason. Dallas never would have made it to a Game 7 against the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the league’s most recent playoff season. In the not-too-distant future, Marion’s name and number should be lifted to the same rafters as that championship banner.
Marion has been called a Swiss Army knife on the basketball floor, as he can do most anything that’s asked of him. He has defended every position on the floor, including center, he rebounds, he makes effective cuts and slashes in the halfcourt, he finishes at the rim, he gets out in transition and during the most recent NBA season, he incorporated a three-point jump shot back into his game — something once considered a staple for him. He willingly and loyally provides a team with whatever it needs from him, and that is an invaluable combination of character trait and physical ability in today’s NBA. His versatility makes him very difficult to replace.
So, Mavericks fans, while you’re salivating over the fantasy prospect of seeing Anthony, James or any other superstar in a Dallas uniform, don’t forget about Marion. He’s getting older, but now is not the time to lose him without first finding a way to replace him.
Brian Ogle is a Dallas Mavericks columnist for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @TheOgle.