Marion, Jones will try to resurrect Mavs' defensive culture
Earl K. Sneed writes that with the addition of Dahntay Jones, Dallas Mavericks forward Shawn Marion should have help on the defensive side of the floor this season.
Mavs' newcomers hoping to bring trophy back to Big D
DALLAS – The burden casted upon the broad shoulders of Dallas Mavericks small forward Shawn Marion on the defensive end of the floor last season was well-documented.
Marion, who finished eighth in Defensive Player of the Year voting, was often asked to do much more than just defend the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer, often stepping out of position in attempts to take away the opponents’ top options.
“It’s hard, it ain’t easy,” Marion admitted last season. “I guess the mentality you’ve gotta have is you’ve gotta want to do it and take the challenge of doing it. You know, I like challenges and I pride myself on taking guys out of doing what they’re used to doing. And I just go out there and compete. You always have to give yourself something to keep that edge. Whatever it takes to get you going, to get that edge over another guy or to get your team going, that’s what you’ve got to do.”
But, with the Mavericks’ off-season addition of swingman Dahntay Jones, Marion figures to have a comrade on the defensive end this upcoming season, likely lightening his load throughout the course of the 82-game grind. And with the same commitment to excelling on defense as his new teammate, Jones comes to Dallas hoping to assist Marion in improving a team that finished ranked 12th in the league last season after allowing 94.8 points per game.
“My game starts with defense, so I have a lot of respect for Shawn Marion because I’ve been used the same type of way that he is now; guarding anywhere from a point guard to a small forward and sometimes a power forward,” Jones explained when he was introduced to the Dallas media earlier this month. “So, I’m just happy to be next to a guy like that and to be able to contribute and be a vocal leader on the defensive end.”
With Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle expected to employ a full-court press at times throughout the season, defense may become the team’s calling card. The team will also try to reestablish a defensive culture that seemed to disappear after center Tyson Chandler, who beat out Marion for the top defensive honors, and defensive coordinator Dwane Casey migrated following the ‘10-11 championship season to New York and Toronto, respectively.
And with an offensive attack spearheaded by 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki to bolster the efforts of Marion and Jones on the defensive end, the Mavs may once again have the perfect components for a championship-contending squad.
“I think that we fare with any team in the NBA right now, even the super contenders and people you think are great teams,” Jones added. “We have a group of guys that have a tremendous amount of experience. One through 10, I don’t think a team is stronger than what we have. And when you have Dirk, anything can happen. So, I think we have a great chance of winning a championship.”