By Dalton Del Don
RotoWire Staff Writer
Conventional (and logical) wisdom suggest the recent trade of Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks for Shaquille O'Neal makes little to no sense for the Suns. After all, no matter how unpleasant the locker room was, Suns GM Steve Kerr simply had to get more for such a versatile player like Marion than an injured, way past his prime 35-year old, right? And could there be a worse fit? One of the slowest players in the league joining such a frenetic, uptempo scheme? With Steve Nash and O'Neal on defense, why not run a pick-and-roll every single play?
Then again, I'm a contrarian at heart, so while seemingly every analyst has bashed the deal, I'm going to play some devil's advocate. First off, don't think O'Neal hasn't heard every uttered word declaring he's done, so there's a good chance the Big Fella returns with something to prove. Additionally, Phoenix is confident its top top-notch medical staff can prolong his career physically, something they've had success doing with Grant Hill this season. Moreover, the Suns aren't fast-breaking with five guys, so that aspect means little, and now they have a much better half court offense.
O'Neal is still a terrific passer, and that should bode well on a team loaded with shooters. Maybe most importantly of all, it moves Amare Stoudemire to power forward, where his atrocious defense will be less exposed. O'Neal is no longer an elite interior defender, but opposing centers have been dominating the paint against the Suns. And anyone proclaiming Phoenix lost its best defender in the deal is underrating Raja Bell's perimeter defense. I'm not saying this is a great deal for Phoenix, but the worst defensive rebounding team in the league just got a lot more interesting.
Around the League:
Every week, we'll use this space to track players whose fantasy value is improving, declining, or uncertain. We're not particularly concerned with hot or cold streaks - all players toss up a 2-for-10 every now and again - unless they are extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time or role or skill level. Comments and questions are always welcome - just post 'em on the message board at the bottom of this page.
Amare Stoudemire, PHO During four games in February, Stoudemire is averaging 28.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 3.3 blocks. Part of that is the absence of Shawn Marion, and Stoudemire's numbers are sure to dip when O'Neal joins the team, but the return to his natural power forward position should lead to increased fantasy value from here on out.
Andre Miller, PHI While his name is mentioned in trade rumors from time to time, Miller has quieted that talk recently by helping the 76ers improbably enter the playoff picture with four straight victories. He's averaging 20.3 points and 9.0 assists during six contests in February, winning the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award.
Jameer Nelson, ORL After losing his starting two weeks ago, Nelson returned to the starting five in back-to-back games and looks to be locked into the role for the foreseeable future.
Nenad Krstic, NJ He's going to be eased back into action, but Krstic has already returned to the starting lineup after a knee injury sidelined him since November. He's worth stashing in deeper fantasy leagues.
Marcus Banks, MIA His role in Miami is still undefined, but Banks is almost certain to see more minutes than he did in Phoenix. There's a chance they give him the starting point guard duties after the All-Star break, since the team has nothing to lose and needs to look toward the future.
Shaquille O'Neal, PHO A change in scenery can do nothing but improve O'Neal's fantasy value. He had little incentive to rush back to the court on a last place Miami team, but in Phoenix, he can act as a role player for the potentially title contending Suns. The extra possessions per game Phoenix's style dictates should also lead to better stats.
Vladimir Radmanovic, LAL Radmanovic has started the last seven games for the Lakers and should continue to do so until Andrew Bynum (knee) returns, something that might not even happen at all this season. Radmanovic's an excellent source of three-pointers.
Shawn Marion, PHO On one hand, Marion leaves a system perfectly suited to his style of play that is, open three-pointers from the corner and fast break dunks. Still, there are fewer mouths to feed in Miami, so Marion is going to get plenty of offensive opportunities. If his first game in a Heat uniform was any indication, he should be at the top of the Stock Up list instead.
Ron Artest, SAC - Engulfed in trade rumors, with Denver the latest speculated destination, his fantasy value is unlikely to change all that much even if he does get dealt. Because he's playing for a new contract, he should be plenty motivated no matter what uniform he's wearing.
Kirk Hinrich, CHI Hinrich has missed the last three games with bruised ribs. However, he's expected to return to the lineup Tuesday against the Hornets.
T.J. Ford, TOR - Ford sat out the second half of Monday's game because of a sore right wrist. The injury doesn't appear to be related to the neck/arm ailment that kept him out of 24 games earlier this season, but it's a reminder of his fragility.
Josh Howard, DAL - Howard left Monday's game in the fourth quarter with a back injury. He returned after a first trip to the locker room, but a bruised lower back eventually forced him out for good. He's day-to-day.
Ben Gordon, CHI An ailing right wrist has sidelined Gordon for eight of the past 10 games. He was scheduled to get an MRI Monday, and fantasy owners should be holding their breath.
Stephon Marbury, NY - Because his recent ankle surgery was more complex than expected, Marbury will reportedly miss the rest of the year. It was another lost season for the former star.
Damon Stoudamire, SAN After starting his first three games as a member of the Spurs, Stoudamire has been relegated to the bench for the past two contests. He's shooting just 35.3 percent (12-of-34 FG) from the field since coming to San Antonio, and Tony Parker (heel) could return shortly after the All-Star break.
Article first appeared on 2/11/08