Is Shawn Marion Guarding Point Guards Hurting Dallas Mavericks?

By Rami Michail

Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After the Dallas Mavericks’ abysmal performance against the Portland Trailblazers, questions whether the defense will ever improve arose again.

Everyone knew coming into the season that the defense was going to be a weakness; Jose Calderon, Dirk Nowtizki, and Monta Ellis will never be mistaken for being on the all-defense team.

Samuel Dalembert was brought in to clean up the mess of those three, but let’s just say he hasn’t exactly been a major upgrade over Chris Kaman on the defensive side.

Now we’re left with Shawn Marion.

No doubt the toughest guy on the roster. Since the first moment he’s put on a Mavs’ jersey, he’s done everything coach has asked from him, wether it be coming off the bench so Caron Butler could start, chase around speedy point guards, guarding the likes of Kevin Durant and Lebron James, or bang against post players, Marion has done it all.

But is too much being asked from him this season?

Can we really expect Marion to continue guarding the likes of Mike Conley, Tony Park, Damian Liliard, and Chris Paul; then ask him to switch off and battle against Zach Randolph, Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Tim Duncan?

The 35-year-old Marion will never complain, as he’s been doing this since his days with the Phoenix Suns.

But is asking him to continue to do this actually hindering the team?

The saying is, Cut The Head Off Of A Snake & The Body Dies.”

What if the snake has multiple heads?

It’s one thing to have Marion guarding Conley Jr, so Ellis and Calderon guard non-threats Tayshaun Prince and Tony Allen.

But what about teams with far more talent?

Do we really think Calderon guarding Nicolas Batum (two 20+pt games) is at all favorable for the Mavs? What about having Kawhi Leonard posting up Ellis on the block?

Also, is it smart to take our best rebounder away from the basket?

In five combined games between the Memphis Grizzlies (1), Portland Trailblazers (2), Los Angeles Clippers (1), and San Antonio Spurs (1), Marion has grabbed at or above his season averaged in rebounds just ONCE! To top it off, the team has been rebounded in all five of these games.

The Mavs are 2-3 in these five games.

Not to dismiss Marion’s efforts or his ability, but these great point guards have still had big games against him and the Mavs. It’s not fair to expect one player to lock up these All-Star caliber point guards on his own.

Not only has Marion’s rebounding numbers decrease, his scoring has taken a hit. In 3 of the 5 games he’s scored 5 points or less, but has had 20+ performances in the other two games. Even though he’s had those twenty point performances, I think it’s safe to say that chasing these point guards hinders his ability/energy on the offensive side of the ball.

Having Marion guarding these guards doesn’t just hurt the Mavs on the boards and on the offensive side, but it creates other mismatches on the floor.

Mavs may be better off having Ellis guard these point guards and avoid creating another mismatch on the floor. It’s far easier for the defense to help a single defender who is mismatched than two or three. If anything, save Marion for the fourth quarter to matchup with these guards.

We all know Marion will do whatever is asked of him, even if it’s chasing these great guards all over the court. 

But is this really best for the team?