Marion joins an incredibly deep and talented Cavaliers roster that has come together in a matter of just weeks. Last season in Dallas, the Matrix averaged nearly 32 minutes per game and played in 76 contests. In his 15-year career that has been spent primarily in Phoenix and Dallas with brief stops in Miami and Toronto, he has always been a 30+ minute per night, durable, starting small forward. In many cases, Marion because of his defensive skill and athleticism is asked to play small-ball power forward. Last year, Marion averaged 10.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.5 blocks while shooting 48% overall, 36% from three, and 79% at the free throw line. He’s got a funky shot delivery, but it hasn’t stopped him from being efficient when open around the arc and converting at the line. One of his greatest assets, though, is his ability to defend 2-4 on the opposing side of the ball at 6’7″ and 220 lbs.
Marion is likely to see a somewhat reduced role in Cleveland, but his presence will have an incredible impact. While he’ll likely be coming off the bench for the first extended amount of time in his career, one would expect him to still see 20-25 minutes per night. The player most affected by Marion and the pending Love trade will undoubtedly be Tristan Thompson, who will need to play more of his minutes at center now backing up Anderson Varejao. Overall, I’m alright with that situation because of Tristan’s rebounding skill and the ability for Love to stretch the floor beside him. My only concern is how the team will fare against some of the few and far between centers left in the game (Dwight Howard, Roy Hibbert, Pau Gasol, and Brook Lopez, for instance). The Cavaliers are betting that their offensive firepower and athleticism will overshadow any shortcoming there, and I’m inclined to believe them.
LeBron’s recruiting skills have been vital in landing Mike Miller, James Jones, and Marion along with getting Kevin Love interested in coming to Cleveland. David Griffin deserves a bit of credit for this acquisition, however, as Marion reportedly had a good relationship with Griffin during his nine years in Phoenix when Griffin was a part of the front office.
Marion made it clear he wanted to play for a contender, and the Pacers, Heat, and Clippers were among those interested. In Indiana, he would’ve stepped into a starting role with the absence of Paul George, but Indiana was not willing to break the bank and use the entire injury exception of $5.3 million allotted to them for Paul George, as it would have put them into the luxury tax. Marion won his first title with Dallas in 2011 against James and the Heat, and he’ll be looking for number two when the two pair up this season.
The team is looking at its most depth in franchise history with Marion, Mike Miller, and Tristan Thompson all likely coming off the bench, and it’s possible that more is still on the way if Ray Allen agrees to join the Cavs. The team could also be looking to add a veteran third point guard, such as Chauncey Billups, or a bigger body for backup center (Emeka Okafor, Greg Stiemsma, Jermaine O’Neal, and Ekpe Udoh are a few names still out there).
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