As the Sun Greets the Dawn

Over the past few days, several prominent media types have wondered out loud about how anyone could not want to play with Steve Nash, the consensus (at least in the mainstream) greatest point guard in the league and ultimate distributor of the world. These writers’ takes have come somewhere between outrage and bewilderment. In almost all cases, people just can’t understand why Marion would ever want to leave Steve Nash.

Thankfully, many citizens of Blogburgh have responded with a more respectable view of this situation. In his take on the trade request, David Friedman of 20 Second Timeout wrote a paragraph so good that I will simply reproduce it here:

The Marion story flies in the face of two pieces of "conventional wisdom" that the mainstream media touts: 1) Everyone in the NBA would love to play with Steve Nash and would accept less money to do so; 2) Nobody in the NBA wants to play with Kobe Bryant. Therefore, rather than simply reporting the facts, it will not be too long before many media outlets spin this story to fit in with "conventional wisdom." It will be interesting to watch this unfold and see if the spin becomes an attack on Marion for being "selfish," an attack on Marion for not being that valuable of a player or if somehow someone figures out a way to blame this all on Bryant. Rest assured that the face value facts--Marion wants to be traded from Phoenix to the Lakers--will not be simply reported as such for very long.

I couldn’t put it any better. Instead of dismissing Marion’s issue with the Suns as unreasonable hogwash, let’s try to answer the heretofore rhetorical question and figure out how anyone could not want to play with Steve Nash. (I should also give props to everyone in the FD comments. The idea for this post started there.) Before starting this exercise, I’d like to make it clear that I imagine Steve Nash is fun to play with. Teammates have spoken well of him for years; Marion is certainly an exception and not the rule.

However, that doesn’t mean that Nash’s game doesn’t have some traits that would irk a player of Marion’s caliber. For all his skills as a distributor, Nash gets many of his assists after creating angles with his dribble. When he uses that tactic, he uses up the majority of the possession with the ball in his hands, meaning that the finisher really only has to catch the ball and lay it in. Logically, that shouldn’t be a problem for the finisher, but Nash’s controlling of the ball necessarily focuses most of the attention on him. The other players, who still receive a fair share of attention, become known more as finishers than they would be otherwise.

The media attention that Nash receives compounds this problem. It’s not uncommon for a point guard to get attention, but Nash’s reputation as Ultimate Team Player A-#1 doesn’t perfectly match his penchant for controlling possessions, although they do certainly match closely. Any praise given to Nash for being a fantastic teammate must sting a player that knows he’s capable of being more than a clean-up man, which is a role that Marion and the other Suns often play.

In the end, I think it’s exactly that knowledge that makes this situation tough for Marion. If he hadn’t been successful without Nash, I’m sure he’d be less willing to part, but the fact that Marion was an all-star before Nash arrived means that he knows he can get more attention on another team. His willingness to leave Phoenix might seem odd, but it’s not insane by any stretch.


George said...

I've been in, and heard over many discussions as to who would one prefer: Marion, or Odom? But, for myself, what instantly strikes me is my own empathy for Lamar. The man has been through quite a lot, both on the court, and in his personal life. To me, he is also an individual who plays with his whole heart, until the final whistle, as was displayed by his effort in the Lakers final game versus the Suns. Furthermore, not only has he been in a high degree of trade rumors over the years, but he has bounced around the league a bit, while Marion, has been a franchise mainstay. Also, the only knock on Odom really seems to be his health, when that was not a big issue, I can recall praises for his defensive ability, just as Marion gets. Yet, when thinking of how these two players would fit if they swapped jerseys, would it benefit Odom's playmaking abilities to watch seconds go down as Nash dribbles. Would he be reduced to a jump shooter? Could he be the great finisher that Nash flourishes aside? Perhaps he could ease the degree of ball handling pressure Nash has, it would indeed be interesting to see. I really like Marion as a player, have for years, love his unique game and abilities. But Odom is such a selfless guy, good teammate, and despite health, a great player and a good fit on the Lakers with Kobe. To deal or not, I have been easily sided on other Laker trade rumors, this one, though, leaves me quite perplexed.

Anonymous said...

While you give a good breakdown of Steve Nash's game, your logic takes a leap (and falls short) when you suggest that this creates a poor fit between Steve Nash and Shawn Marion, of all people. Marion is not a good ball-handler. While he is athletic, his arsenal is not highlighted by a jumpshot (unsurprising if you consider his shooting form). Between those two simple facts, his ability to create his own shot is limited and offensively, he IS basically limited to being a finisher, rebounder, open-shooter which he does with the Suns. His (and your) delusion that Marion should account for a greater portion of each possession is somewhat ridiculous. I agree that more plays should be run for him, but even those must end with an open shot or a dunk/lay-up. In those two areas, he competes with some of the best in the NBA within his own team, with many excellent open shooters and an explosive returned Amare Stoudemire.

That he feels unappreciated seems apparent. That he actually IS underappreciated is probable if less apparent. That he should be dribbling the ball or creating his own offense, however, is asinine.

Ty Keenan said...

Anon: I harbor no delusions about Marion's limitations; I agree with everything you said. It would be silly to have him handle the ball more on a team with Steve Nash. All I tried to do in this post was step into Marion's shoes and figure out why he would be so ready to leave Phoenix, given that most analysts seem to think he's insane.

George: I really like Odom and think he would be used much better in Phoenix than he currently is in LA. In any trade situation, though, the Lakers would come out the big winners here. Carter wrote a post on this earlier in the week. If you want to know what I think about the deal, take his reasoning and amplify turn it up to 11.

Garry Shuck said...

Conceding the point that Marion was an all-star with great numbers before Nash got there, let's not forget who was running the point for Phoenix during that time:

First Jason Kidd, and then Stephon Marbury--and say what you want about Marbury, his assist numbers in Phoenix were pretty good- 8+ per game. While his first year was a disaster, the 2nd year he led the team to the playoffs and managed to extend the Spurs to 6 games as the 8th seed.

Anyway, back to Marion--while he is certainly ridiculously multi-skilled, and one of the better defensive players and rebounders in the league, his offense would suffer mightily without somebody setting him up for easy scores.

Ty Keenan said...

Garry: Good point re: Kidd; I should have mentioned that. I definitely agree with you in terms of the effect Nash and Kidd have had on Marion's game, but I'd also argue that Kidd's presence at the beginning of Marion's career would be even more reason for him wanting to leave. (I do think Kidd is a different beast. Not as much dribbling, although the same concerns about Marion as mostly a finisher would come up.) Like I said to Anon, I was playing Marion's advocate here and don't really agree with his position that much. But I still think his feelings are legitimate.

Dan said...

I think it's a little simpler than you're making it. Marion said he wants to be remembered as the best forward ever. I don't quite remember where I heard it, but I have heard it. In his mind, he's talented enough to do that. Now, even if he were right and he were the best forward ever, there's no way he would be rcognized as such playing third fiddle to Nash and Amare in Phoenix. So I think, point blank, Marion thinks he's much better than he is and is delusional enough to think Nash and Amare are a hinderance to his ultimate glory. That's quite a feat of self delusion for somebody already recognized as being so skilled.

goathair said...

Is Lamar Odom on the Suns anything more than a better Boris Diaw? I don't think so. Diaw is just Odom with a slightly smaller skill set and heart beat. And we already saw how badly Diaw struggled playing alongside Stoudemire.

Stephe said...

His complaint is that Nash is a point guard who controls the possession? Uhhhh, that's his job, dude. Would Marion complain that 2 guard would score or a center would rebound?

Manel said...

Vote For Pedro!

Ty Keenan said...

Dan: It certainly wouldn't be the first time I overanalyzed something. If you're right, then what I talked about in this post would be symptoms and not reasons.

Goathair: My biggest fear re: Odom on the Suns would be that he'd turn into a spot-up shooter. It'd be interesting to see how they'd use him, especially in terms of how much they'd let him handle the ball. The Diaw comparison makes some sense, but I think Odom's skills are much more refined, to the point where the comparison doesn't get at the core of how he'd be used. Certainly a legitimate worry, though, and I wouldn't be shocked if Odom had problems on the Suns similar to what he's experiencing in LA.

Stephe: A point guard is obviously supposed to handle the ball a lot, but there's a difference between initiating the offense and controlling possessions. Nash essentially handles the ball until he passes with the specific intent of that player taking a shot. Again, that system works for Phoenix and I don't think they should change it, but Nash's style is different than that of most NBA points.

Manel: Show me the money!!!

Trey Jones said...

I've tried and tried to understand Marion's reasoning for wanting to get traded, and I've tried to understand how we would not want to play with Nash, and I just don't get it. There aren't 3 good reasons why an athletic forward with a decent jumpshot, and no ability to create shots on his own wouldn't want to play with a pg that pretty much simplifies the game for him. You would rather leave the team where you are an All-Star, despite being the third best player on the team, and the highest paid player on the team, and go to a team that hasn't gotten out of the first round in three years just to play with Kobe and get away from Phx.

Kobe is a great, great individual player, not a great team player. Plus, Marion's contract would only further eat up the Lakers cap and make it even harder to improve the roster. That's a smart move (sarcasm)

Stanko Zovko said...

I am a huge Suns fan and a huge Marion fan. I have seen him play hundreds of games and analyzed his game on many levels.

I love Marion but in all reality he can not build his own shot to save his life. There were about half a dozen situations last year where Marion found himself in the corner with the ball and a defender in front of him. He looked at best uneasy in these situations. The thing is that is where a traditional forward plays and should feel most at home. Marion's game has not improved in years. He has been relying on the same combination of speed, hustle and jumping ability since he has gotten in the league. The real players who want to be the best work in the off season to strengthen their skill-set and add new things to their repertoire. Marion as much as I love the guy and his game has not done anything of the sort.

I think Marion is one of the ten best players to ever have put on a Suns uniform. I also think his time has come.

Everyone is talking about either trading him for AK47 or Odom. I think both are fine players but there is a third team that has the ability to trade for Marion as well. The New York Knicks could offer a package that has a lot of talent including one of my favorite players in the league David Lee. Lee is somewhat of a young Marion in his hustle factor and rebounding. he might not be as good of a defender but I am sure that he would put up amazing performances on team like the Suns.

Ty Keenan said...

Trey: Again, I don't think he's insane for wanting to leave, but it would certainly make a lot more sense if he weren't the highest-paid player on the team.

Stanko: I really like David Lee, too, but I don't see how he (and whoever comes over with him) replaces Marion. AK is the only guy I see coming close to replacing everything that he brings. I'm also biased there; he's one of my favorite players in the league.

stopmikelupica said...

Great post, Ty.

I'll add my thoughts on why I think Marion might want to move on, away from Nash. First off, we're assuming that's why he wants to leave, right? It's not the money (no one else would give him more), it's not that he wants to leave to go to a "better" team - who is better, besides the Spurs? The Rockets? The Cavs? The Mavs?

No, we assume he's leaving because he's tired of being in Nash's shadow, right?

Okay, now about that shadow... when Nash got here, Marion was an all-star, and the star of the team (well, the PGs were, but Kidd/Marbury were both gone by the time Nash got there). Nash was not an All-Star, much less an MVP. Dig that?

Nash was let go by the Mavs so they could get Jason Terry. And most "experts" - the media, the writers, other GMs - thought that was a good move. I think Nash was taken in the 6th round of my Fantasy draft that season, long after Terry (and a bunch of other so-so PGs). Just reminding ya'll how it was, that's all. Because I'm sure Marion remembers.

Then the Suns blow up, and Nash gets all the credit. There was some debate that first season - people, including me, argued that Amare was the "real" MVP, not Nash. But then Amare went down, and the team kept chugging along splendidly, shutting guys like me up. Nash proved he was the man, not Amare.

And nobody talked about Marion. The guy whose defense and rebounding allowed those fact breaks to occur. The guy who cleaned up Nash's horrible defensive lapses. The guy who ability to sky made the other half of those beautiful alley-oops from Nash work, and the guy who set the picks, did what he was suppose to do in the system, and hit those open threes.

If The System, and D'Antonio, got most of the credit (they certainly get some of the credit), maybe Marion wouldn't care. But two MVPs and loads of media jocking on Nash, and the fact that almost all the credit goes to Nash... that's the shadow that Marion has had enough of.

I don't know if I agree that's a good excuse or not for Marion to demand a trade, but I do think that has to be a big factor in why he's demanding a trade....

Anonymous said...

I agree that Nash handles the rock a bit longer than he should but we should understand that he does it because it is a nessesity because of how the team is made up. Amare is an explosive finisher with a good mid-range game but his post game still needs work. James Jones and Raja Bell were shooters, Boris diaw isn't a slasher and neither is Marion. The only real slashers in the team were Barbosa and Nash. Marion should understand this because no point guard can replace what Nash did for their system and no one can replace what he did too. He shouldn't go after being the MVP of the league but being the MVP in his own team.

mike said...

first of all, i cannot see how marion would be happy playing alongside kobe bryant.
second of all, marion would NEVER EVER be the greatest forward ever.
In fact, just from the past ten years, i can think of several that i would pick over marion.
a certain timmy duncan, chris webber up until about 2002, kevin garnett, dirk nowitzki, and when their careers are up, chris bosh and carlos boozer.
he plays the small forward position, but can't handle, can't shoot, and really can't create his own shot anyway.
i don't understand why he would want to leave such a great environment for him. he thrives in a run and gun offense, where he can get easy buckets in transition. he will NOT be happy standing in the corner while #24 is going straight at the basket and throws him a bone every other quarter.

Ty Keenan said...

SML: Great comment, in a lot of ways better than my post. Your reasons for why Nash would be the issue seem right on, but I'd also add that the pub that Amare gets now (which you hint at) has to be a factor, too. As I said before, I was just trying to answer the Nash question in this post, but it's certainly worth exploring what else could have played into this one.

Anon 9:57: Arguments have been made (by Shoals at FD, in a post earlier this summer) that Marion is actually the most important player on the Suns, not Nash. I wouldn't go quite that far, but it's certainly possible that Marion feels that way about his contribution (and if he wants to be the best forward ever, I'd say it's likely). If he already feels like the MVP of his own team, then it's an issue of getting attention.

Which leads well into mike's issue, who's right on about Marion's limitations. That doesn't mean that he doesn't have the ability to do more in his weaker areas, though. After all, playing with Kidd, Nash, and to a lesser extent Marbury (can someone who watched him daily with Marbury say a bit about how Marion's game changed?) means that he hasn't ever had much of a chance to do those things.

I'm of the opinion that Kobe is a better team player than he gets credit for, although he certainly isn't a master distributor. At any rate, I think Marion's skills would become more obvious around Kobe, and he'd get more credit; he almost certainly sees himself as Kobe's Pippen. It would really be "Kobe and Marion lead the Lakers" as opposed to "Steve Nash makes the Suns work." Marion is no Pippen, but, as many shots as Jordan took, no one thought Pippen was less than a superstar. (Now, whether or not even that was too little credit is another story.) Kobe doesn't have the same game as Jordan, but I refuse to believe that he wouldn't appreciate and value Shawn Marion for at least a few years.

Anonymous said...

A trade for AK makes basically the most sense for everyone involved (except Marion). Kirilenko leaves a rigid system and goes to a team that uses his unconventional skills almost perfectly. While he will not have Marion's defensive flexibility, he will clean up for some weaknesses as well. Both teams trade large and comparable salaries and lose a malcontent. Unfortunately for Marion, he ends up in AK's position, in a rigid system with strongly defined positions while he is a player with a versatile, unconventional skill set that doesn't fit into a position.

I have a hard time imagining the Suns taking Odom for Marion. Even a dissatisfied Marion produces in too many different ways compared to a (let's assume) happy Odom. Odom may be offensively flexible and a second choice as a good passer, but few systems and players need a second playmaker less than D'antoni's system and Nash in it. His defensive skill is decent, even good, but it's the versatility that Marion truly added. The Suns need a flexible defender because neither Nash or Stoudemire are competent defenders at their position, so Marion effectively covers for one or the other (with Kurt Thomas picking up some of Amare's slack as well last year).

SSron said...

I think it's big leap to say that Marion has any cause to be upset playing with Nash.

Marion is fortunate beyond measure that he gets to play with someone who can set him up...he'd be a 15/10 man instead of a 20/10 man without Nash; his shot-making deficiencies have been well-reported.

If he gets traded he's going to find that playing second fiddle behind Kobe and his 23 shots a game on a 48-win team or third fiddle behind Williams and Boozer will prove less satisfying than catching lobs and behind-the-backs from the best point behind Kidd.

He's got cause to be happy. People love his abilities but not his attitude.

Anonymous said...

Good post - it's interesting to reconsider what we've been taking for granted here. There are two points I'd want to make, that I think are more important than any dissatisfaction that Marion might have with is fit into Steve Nash's game.

1) Amare. While we've gotten used to praising Marion in an "of course they need his defense" sort of fashion, we don't seem to have a visceral "OMG he's hurt!" reaction. It was a taken for granted that the Suns would need Amare if they were going to win a championship two years ago. An injury to Nash? The season's OVER. But nobody's really said anything like that about Marion, possibly because he never seems to get hurt. I'd imagine that would get under his skin, all the counterfactual terror at losing one of the other top two players when he knows he's just going to have to pick up the pieces. Add to that some well deserved resentment towards Amare for not playing defense and the fact that Amare's convinced that he's better than anyone else on the court and I think he's more probable as a "move on" factor than Nash. After all, when Nash is out, the Suns really DO struggle.

2) Mike D'Antoni seems to put players in stereotyped roles and doesn't want them to play a whole lot outside of that. He says over and over that Marion scores all his points off put backs and that they don't run plays for him. Now, since Marion's got this reputation of disappearing in big games, why not break down and give the guy some plays? You don't need to run the game through him, but he's an All Star, not a defensive specialist like Raja Bell - you just can't let him disappear from a whole series when you know the alley oops are and loose balls are going to be much harder to come by. It's just going to make a guy feel like he's been left out to dry. They used to exploit perimeter mismatches when Boris Diaw played, why not show Marion some similar love? I'm just saying that Marion's scoring style is more fit for the regular season than the playoffs - in that regard, he's not too far from AK-47's situation.

Hopefully that makes sense. I'm not in any way convinced that Marion would be better off somewhere else, but I think he'd be feeling a lot more love if they'd draw up some reliable post-season plays for the guy (and run them too!) Then, it's be clear that they DO value him enough to do what it takes to keep him happy - isn't that what coaches do for all stars?

Thanks for getting me to re-think this one a bit.


Anonymous said...

Ty and Goathair - The Suns actually need another guy to handle the ball - it was really good when Diaw was playing well and distributing the ball. Nash's shooting ability makes him a deadly off-the-ball scorer. That's one of the problems with the Nash, Bell, (some dude), Marion, Amare lineup. Neither Marion nor Amare are fantastic passers and Diaw just doesn't seem to be able to take advantage of the 3 spot the way he did with the 5 two years ago. I don't know enough about Odom's game, but he might be able to bring a lot more to the 3 than Diaw, shifting him to the 4 or 5 while Amare took the 4 spot as a more versatile attacking player. Trading Marion for Odom might not be an even talent trade on the face of it, but it might well bring Diaw back into the game a whole lot more (which, if I was Mike D'Antoni, I'd be very concerned about, seeing good he's capable of being - I don't think his blowfulness last year was entirely buttered croissant-driven).

The only huge mitigating factor that I can see (it's been said other places as well) is Odom's health - Odom in a suit doesn't get that many rebounds.

It's the same for AK-47 - I'd grab him up in a heartbeat if I knew I had to get rid of Marion and thought the guy wasn't injury prone (which I *think* he is). That and "I don't care about money" type talk. That's scary to fans, who like to take for granted that players will stick around at least until their contracts are up.


Anonymous said...

Marion for Odom or Kirilenko are both intriguing prospects. While I love Odom's game, the presence of both Diaw and Hill on the Suns would mean that there are a glut of passing, ball handling forwards on the team, although Odom does give them valuable size. Kirilenkon would probably make more sense.

How come no one is talking about a Marion for Artest trade? Artest gives you a defensive stopper who can create his own shot AND handle the ball if necessary (remember when the Pacers experimented with him at the point?) Not as much scoring on the fast break, but with a starting line-up that can include Barbosa because of Artest's defensive presence, would it really matter? Unfortunately Artest is completely unpredictable, but maybe Nash can keep him in check?

Anonymous said...

I've got a couple of problems with SML's post. First of all Nash was an All-Star twice in Dallas. Nash/Nowitzki were considered once of the best, if not the best duo in the league. Secondly, Cuban didn't let Nash go to get Terry. Cuban lost Nash and then HAD to find a point guard. Luckily for him Terry was available. If Nash was taken in the 6th round of your fantasy draft it just tells me that you and your buds didn't know much about basketball.

As far Marion not getting enough credit, that might have been true the first year Nash was there but in the last two years I've never watched a Phoenix game (in which Marion played well) where the announcers didn't comment on how underrated Marion was and what a great versatile player he is. At some point doesn't that count as getting credit?

Look, what Marion should worry about is whether or not he's being used properly and the Suns use his skills perfectly. After that it's up to the fans to recognize how good he is.

Marion is the best defender on the team and has always gotten credit for that. It's a joke that he didn't make the defensive team but that's not up to the Suns. Marion is the best rebounder on the team and has always gotten credit for that. He's a good scorer but definetly not the best on the team. He's a great finisher but still, Amare is better at that. He's a good shooter but there's a half dozen guys on the team that are better shooters. But people recognize that he can do all of these things and he gets credit for his versatility.

I don't know what he hopes to accomplish by leaving Phoenix. He won't be the best player on any team that has a chance of making the playoffs. If he goes to LA not only will Kobe be the better scorer, finisher, playmaker, etc...but Kobe is probrably a better defender too so Marion won't even get credit for that.

If he stays in Phoenix he may win a championship. People will probably say that Nash was the leader, Amare was the dominant scorer and Marion was the defender, rebounder, fast break finisher. That doesn't sound bad to me. If he leaves he'll just be remembered as a guy who couldn't put his ego aside for the sake of playing on a winning team if he's remembered at all.

Ty Keenan said...

The Odom vs. AK question is a good one, although I think AK would be the clear choice. He is definitely injury prone, but he's also still fairly young and is perfect for that system. While I really like Odom and think the Suns would use him better than the Lakers do, I also don't think he'd be that great. And, as goathair said earlier, he would make a lot of Diaw's skills redundant. The only problem with the AK trade, as one of the anons said, is that it wouldn't do anything to help Marion. (Once games start, I'm probably going to write something on what Sloan's doing to those guys in Utah, but that's another story.)

SSron: I don't think Nash is the only reason Marion doesn't want to play for the Suns anymore, but I also think it would be wrong to dismiss him as a possible one just because he seems like he'd be fun to play with. Public perception is often wrong; this post was an attempt to question that and respect Marion instead of saying he's insane.

Ignarus: Amare is definitely a reason, particularly now that he got All-NBA honors when Marion is probably more important to the team's success. If I were to expand this post into something considering all the reasons for Marion's discontent, then that would certainly be one of the major ones.

Your second point is very interesting and is actually making me reconsider a lot of the points I raised. I think you're basically right that D'Antoni's system has become pretty rigid (actually, maybe it always was, and we're just getting used to it now.) If that's the case, then Nash isn't at fault here, he's just doing what's asked of him. It's still a Nash issue in terms of "Nash's play dominates the system," but the blame would fall on D'Antoni. I agree that it's time for him to play with the system a little and let some other talents define it. (I wrote a post on rigid systems and player-defined systems a while back called Instigate the Role. I never thought to call the Suns a rigid system team in there, but I guess they're becoming one rapidly.)

Anon 12:59: Interesting point about the glut of passing forwards -- you'd think that would force D'Antoni to change things up a bit. That's actually why I'm not as excited about Hill on this team than others seem to be. I just can't imagine him being effective as a wing when the Suns demand that those guys shoot threes.

Artest would be incredibly interesting, but I doubt the Suns would trade a guy like Marion for him. That'd be too big a risk.

Anon 1:49: I forgot about Nash making the all-star team before he went to Phoenix. He still blew up to something completely different when he got there, but your point would change SML's argument a bit.

As for the credit he gets, I don't think in-game commentary is what he's looking for, because in that case the announcers have to talk about everything that happens on the floor (in theory, at least); it's not like they can avoid talking about Marion. The national, out-of-game publicity is what he's looking for, and that's more valuable because that kind of publicity necessitates picking and choosing from a wide range of players. A large number of people can cry foul that he didn't make the all-defense team, but that doesn't change the fact that he didn't make the all-defense team, which is voted on by people from all over the country.

stopmikelupica said...

Anon 1:49: You are right, Nash did make the All-Star game. Twice. He was a backup, to Steve Francis. In his second appearance, Nash played 15 minutes in a double-OT game, and had 2 points and 3 assists.

The Nash/Dirk duo was considered one of the best? Yes, it was. You know who was considered the better player in that duo? Dirk. Not Nash. Is the Nash/Marion duo considered one of the best in the league? And if it is, is Marion considered the better player, or Nash?

Nash's stock has risen astronomically over the last three years. Cuban didn't "lose" Nash... Nash himself has said that he wanted to stay in Dallas. Cuban offered 4 years, $9 million per, with an option for a fifth. That's it. His only competition was Phoenix, who went 6 years guaranteed (at $10 million per). Ask yourself this: If Nash was so good, why was he getting marginally money for an All-Star? How much were guys like Mike Bibby (who took Nash's "spot" on the 2004 team, since Nash didn't make it) signing for?

Yeah, you're right... me and my buds didn't know much back in that fantasy draft. Neither did any other "experts", though. He went - and I forget if it was the 4th, 5th or 6th round - as late as he went because that is where he's value was projected. Yahoo had him ranked behind Terry, Bibby, Francis, Marbury, Baron Davis, etc. That's not because we "didn't know enough about basketball", that's how Nash was perceived, talent-wise, at the time.