DALLAS – Shawn Marion believes he can get comfortable coming off the bench.
Nothing is set in stone, but all signs point to Marion joining the Mavs’ second unit, making room for Rodrigue Beaubois in the starting lineup. For the first time since his arrival in Dallas, Marion didn’t start Thursday night, playing 22 minutes off the bench in the preseason win over the Bulls.
“It’s an adjustment,” Marion said. “It was interesting, but at the same time, it was cool. We’ve got to come in with energy and do what we’ve got to do to get the team back on track. We did that.”
Marion has started all but 15 of his 820 career games. In the last decade, he’s only come off the bench twice, not including his time with Team USA in the 2004 Olympics.
But Marion has been mentally preparing for this possibility for months. He’s had several conversations about the situation with Jason Terry, who made the transition to the bench a few years ago and won the 2008-09 Sixth Man of the Year award.
“Your body is going to adjust, but mentally, you just have to be willing to come in and get it going right away,” Terry said. “You don’t have time to run up and down two or three times. You’ve got to impact the game right away, and I think it’s something that he can do. That’s his type of game. He’s an energy player.”
Marion will probably be the primary reserve at both forward positions. Coach Rick Carlisle, who said Marion played a “sensible game” while scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds against the Bulls, has told Marion that the Mavs will run a lot of the offense through him when he’s playing with the second team.
“This can work,” Marion said. “We’ve just got to work on it more so I can get comfortable with it and adjusted to it, because I’ve never done it before. But whatever it takes to win, that’s what it’s about.”
The Mavs expect their depth to be the difference in a lot of games. Center Tyson Chandler, Marion and Terry – all players that have been key starters for playoff teams – headline the second unit.
“Right now, we have the best bench in basketball,” Terry said.