"It's all in
the past," says coach Mike D'Antoni. "Shawn's been great."
"Just time to
play ball," says Marion, adding little else about it.
There is simply
no predicting how this subplot will play out. Whether or not Marion is able to
play through his stated dissatisfaction will probably come down to on-court
issues; specifically, the time he spends at power forward. D'Antoni believes
that Marion is most effective when he plays significant minutes at that
position, where he is quicker and more athletic than most of his foes. Marion
believes that he is most effective at small forward, where he is not constantly
going against bigger and stronger opponents. With Hill on the floor at one
forward, though, Marion will still be going against the big guys--which will
either motivate him or add to his feelings of being overlooked and
One other factor:
This is a contract year for Marion, who has a player option for next season.
Which means that the Suns are running out of time to prove themselves a
championship team and Marion is running out of time to prove himself a
An opposing team's scout sizes up the Suns
Can the Suns win
a championship without being an excellent defensive team? I love their style of
play, but it's not built for the playoffs. And that's not a judgment call--I
haven't seen anybody win a title the way they're trying to win it. . . . Steve
Nash will turn 34 by the All-Star break, and they've got to find a way to limit
his minutes. Any game in which they're up by a lot or down by a lot, they've
got to shut him down. . . . The most interesting thing about the addition of
Grant Hill is how he will fit into that offense. Usually they put four guys on
the perimeter and one big guy inside; now they're going to have two guys inside
the arc. . . . If Amar� Stoudemire is ever going to be an MVP candidate, he
will have to become a help defender like Tim Duncan is for San Antonio.
Stoudemire has the size and athleticism to be active defensively and to help
cover the entire court, but it's obvious that he doesn't understand the game as
well as Duncan does.
The Suns made a
league-leading 785 three-pointers last season, the third most in league
The only teams
with more? The '04-05 Suns, who hit 796, and the '05-06 Suns, who set the
record with 837.