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Is Shawn Marion a Hall of Famer?
Breaking down the Hall-of-Fame case for Shawn Marion.
Although the system was designed to evaluate baseball players, with a few minor tweaks it can also be used to assess the Hall-worthiness of basketball players. In this post, I will examine Shawn Marion’s case for the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Was he ever regarded as the best player in basketball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in basketball?
Marion was a very good player, but no one ever considered him to be the best player in the NBA. In fact, he only earned All-NBA honors twice in his career, consecutive Third Team selections in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
Was he the best player on his team?
I believe Marion was the best player on the Phoenix Suns from 2000-01 through 2003-04. Steve Nash arrived in 2004-05 and won consecutive MVP Awards, and helped Amar’e Stoudemire develop into one of the NBA’s most efficient high-volume scorers, so at that point it was clear Marion was no longer the team’s alpha dog.
Was he the best player in basketball at his position?
Marion was a very good forward (he could play either small forward or power forward), but he was not on the level of peers like Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki.
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Did he have an impact on a number of NBA Finals or conference finals?
Marion played in four conference finals:
2005 — Marion played poorly as his Phoenix Suns lost in five games to the San Antonio Spurs.
2006 — Marion played well, but the Suns fell to the Dallas Mavericks in six games.
2011 — Marion started all five games as his Dallas Mavericks took down the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1. In the series, Marion finished third on the team in scoring; second in rebounds and steals; and first in blocks.
2015 — Marion played just 14 total minutes as his Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Atlanta Hawks in four games.
Marion played in the NBA Finals just once, in 2011 when the Mavericks upset the favored Miami Heat 4-2. Marion started all six games, averaging 13.7 PPG and 6.3 RPG. Marion obviously wasn’t the star of that team, but I don’t think the Mavericks would have won the title without his contributions.
Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime?
In 2012-13, at the age of 34, Marion recorded a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 18.0 while playing 2,010 minutes for the Mavericks. From his 30th birthday on, Marion recorded a very respectable PER of 15.3 (compared to 20.8 before). So yes, he was able to be a very productive rotation player past his prime.
Is he the very best (eligible) basketball player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame?
No, as I’ve stated before I believe Chauncey Billups holds that somewhat-dubious honor.
Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame?
Yes, they are. If you calculate Marion’s career value as described in this post, you’ll find he ranks 47th among all players and 39th among Hall-of-Fame eligible players. Every eligible player ahead of him has been elected to the Hall of Fame, as well as the four players directly below him.
If you prefer more traditional statistics, Marion is one of 25 eligible players to record at least 15,000 points and 10,000 rebounds. Twenty of those players are Hall of Famers, five are not (Marion, Zach Randolph, Otis Thorpe, Buck Williams, and Kevin Willis).
Since the NBA began tracking steals and blocks in 1973-74, Marion is one of only six players to record at least 1,500 steals and 1,000 blocks:
The other five players on the list above are (or will be) Hall of Famers.
Do the player’s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?
Marion’s Hall of Fame Probability is 75.6%, which is solid. If you look at the five eligible players directly above and below him, you’ll find eight Hall of Famers:
Dave DeBusschere (83.6%)
Harry Gallatin (80.9%)
Tim Hardaway (79.2%)
Richie Guerin (78.2%)
Joe Dumars (75.6%)
Dennis Rodman (75.3%)
Gail Goodrich (74.0%)
Mitch Richmond (70.0%)
The only non-Hall of Famers in the group that surrounds Marion are Larry Costello (71.0%; he was elected as a contributor in 2022) and former teammate Stoudemire (72.9%).
Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?
Good defenders are usually the players who get shortchanged the most by traditional statistics, and there is evidence, anecdotal and otherwise, to suggest Marion was a very good defensive player.
Although Marion was never named to an All-Defensive team, he received votes in nine seasons. Marion also earned Defensive Player of the Year consideration seven times, including first-place votes in 2000-01 (1), 2004-05 (5), 2006-07 (7), and 2011-12 (2).
Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame?
Yes, I think Marion has the best resume of any eligible forward who has not been elected to the Hall of Fame.
How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?
Marion received MVP votes in just two seasons (2004-05 and 2005-06), collecting a single fifth-place vote each time.
How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the players who played in this many All-Star games go into the Hall of Fame?
Marion was selected to play in four All-Star Games, not a particularly impressive total. There are 38 eligible players with exactly four All-Star selections; 18 of them are in the Hall of Fame, 20 are not.
I sometimes define an “All-Star-type” season as one in which a player records a PER of 20.0 or higher while playing at least 50% of all possible minutes (about 2,000 minutes in an 82-game season). Marion had five such seasons, so his All-Star Game count does not seem to be unfairly low.
If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win an NBA title?
No, I don’t think so. Marion was arguably the third-best player for the Nash-led Suns, and those teams were unable to advance beyond the conference finals. A team with Marion as its clear star would be unlikely to advance to the NBA Finals, let alone win a title.
What impact did the player have on basketball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way? Was his college and/or international career especially noteworthy?
No, nothing particularly noteworthy. Marion played for the 2004 U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team, but that’s the only U.S. squad since 1992 that failed to win a gold medal (they took home the bronze).
Marion was a bit like Horace Grant in that he did a lot of things well, but did not have a signature skill that made you stand up and take notice. These types of players are often underrated because most fans tend to focus on the basics like points, rebounds, and assists.
Marion may not have “felt” like a Hall of Famer when he was active, but what does that even mean? At the end of the day, Marion was a very productive player for a very long time, for teams that had a regular season record of 692-471 (.595) in games in which he played. I’d gladly cast a ballot for him.