Why the Suns Will Miss Shawn Marion

I'm not the first and certainly won't be the last to weigh in on the Shaq trade from Miami to Phoenix. We all know the reason for the trade is to try to get the Suns over the hump in the playoffs, where defense and physical play become such huge factors.

With Shaq still rehabing his bad hip, the Suns will continue to play their spread offense. But the key question becomes who and how will they replace the crucial contributions of Shawn Marion. Perhaps the most immediate concern is in the corners, where Marion basically made his living on the past several years on the baseline. With Marion in the corners, it keeps the defense spread allowing for Nash and Stoudamire to PNR teams to death.

From watching tonight's game against the Sonics, you could already see the negative impact of playing without Marion. That baseline threat which Marion provides, be it the 3-pointer, or drive was missing or misplayed. This was a sequence late in the game with Raja Bell, who normally plays on the wing, occupying the corner spot instead and clearly there was confusion that led to indecision and the turnover which Kevin Durant turned into a big and1 basket,

It wasn't that long ago when the Suns played the Sonics coming from 25 points behind to beat the Sonics. This is a screenshot from that game where Marion was in his favorite spot, the corner, able to make plays with either the 3-pointer or the dribble drive.

Looking at the box score, it appears that Marion's minutes were evenly distributed but the extra shots went mostly to Raja Bell and Amare Stoudamire. Theoretically it seems natural that Boris Diaw take Marion's spot in the corners, but Diaw is neither aggressive enough or good enough of a shooter to be effective there. And so with no clear idea how to fill Marion's contributions, the conundrum that Mike D'Antoni has put himself in will most likely mean a few more losses in the regular season at the expense of hopefully a long playoff run with Shaq.

I realize that Marion was a cancer in the locker room, his desire for star recognition was causing rifts in team chemistry. But the Suns did make a big gamble here. And if Shaq does not deliver the Championship this June, it could set the Suns back a long way as they will need to find another 15 and 10 player with the versatility of Marion. For Steve Nash's sake, I hope Shaq is healthy enough to give them what they need in the playoffs, I've been watching Steve Nash his whole career beginning in those early days when he was just a freshman in high school and I know he doesn't have too much left in the tank.

Anyone interested in more transition offense ideas should take a look at Roy Williams DVD, secrets of the UNC secondary break. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to discuss this and any of your favorite basketball topics.