DALLAS - Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and team czar Mark Cuban are not rolling out campaign posters or establishing a campaign headquarter, but there does seem to be a concerted lobbying effort on the part of forward Shawn Marion.
They clearly want Marion to either win the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award.
To vote for the 6-foot-7 Marion would be to go against the clearly established trend of going with big men since this award was established in 1982-'83.
Here is a list of the non-big men to win this award:
- Ron Artest, 2004, Pacers, 6-6
- Gary Payton, 1996, Sonics, 6-4
- Michael Jordan, 1988, Bulls, 6-6
- Michael Cooper, 1987, Lakers, 6-5
- Alvin Robertson, 1986, Spurs, 6-3
- Sidney Moncrief, 1983 & '84, Bucks, 6-3
Every other winner is a power forward, or a monster.
Marion has a few things in his favor. The timing is good. Orlando center Dwight Howard has won the award three consecutive seasons, and it's hard to see voters giving it to him a fourth straight year even if he deserves it.
Marion plays for a team that is the defending NBA champions, which means his games are often "prime time" slots. He receives a lot of positive pub from national announcers.
The team usually always has Marion chase the other team's top player, other than a center. He averages 11.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.0 steals per game.
"Overall versatility and high impact on our team from a perimeter position," Carlisle said. "There are very few guys, the last being Artest in '04 when we was with us in Indiana, that had the kind of analytic impact on team's overall stats that he's had. ... The analytic data is there. Defense is one of those things that has a profound effect on winning and a team having success. From a coaching perspective you want to see guys get noticed for that because it's a thankless job. He's guarding the best player each and every night."
NBA statistical tracking has evolved to where it's possible to evaluate who one player does against this guy at a certain time of the game on a certain spot on the floor; it's almost like baseball.
Are the voters going to take the time to do that research? I doubt it. They will likely just look at height, the blocks, the rebounds and go with that.
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