Part of the Mavericks’ offseason mission was acquiring a capable backup power forward, which would allow them to trim Dirk Nowitzki’s minutes.
The Mavs swung and missed on a couple of free agents. Udonis Haslem took less money to stay in Miami as part of the SuperFriends’ supporting cast. Al Harrington opted to go for Denver for the same money and a bigger role. It appeared that the Mavs plugged the hole by re-signing Tim Thomas, but that didn’t work out due to his wife’s illness.
Brian Cardinal and Steve Novak, a couple of power forwards with NBA experience, are fighting for a roster spot. There’s talk of 7-footer Tyson Chandler seeing some spot duty at power forward against big teams.
But the reality of the situation is that the Mavs need Shawn Marion to get significant playing time at power forward. And that’s fine by the 6-foot-7 Marion, who had some of his best years as a power forward for the run-and-gun Suns.
“It’s cool actually,” Marion said. “Honestly, the 4 gets all the baskets and gets all the shots. So I’ll get in there real quick. Give me some shots, baby! Why not? I’ll take it.”
Coach Rick Carlisle said he loves the idea of using the 32-year-old Marion, who might be losing his starting job at small forward, as a power forward.
“He’s going to have a quickness advantage almost all of the time,” Carlisle said. “He’s a movement maker. He just makes things happen on the court. For years, people have been trying to label him as some particular type of player. He’s just a basketball player. It’s very difficult to say he’s this position or that position. His position is on the court.”
But Marion didn’t play much power forward in his first season with the Mavs. According to 82games.com, Marion played only 16 percent of available minutes at power forward, which is a little less than eight minutes per game. A lot of those minutes came in smallball lineups with Nowitzki at center.
The goal is to cut Nowitzki’s minutes to the 35-36 range each game. Marion believes he’s more than capable of providing a dozen quality minutes per night as a power forward.