There was a time when Shawn Marion was the best fantasy player in all the land. This was especially true in turnover leagues (Marion at his worst averaged 2 TOs/game). He helped in every category except assists. From 2002 through 2007 he was the man, averaging no worse than a combined 4.5 3-pointers/steals/blocks per game in any season. He never shot worse than 80% from the line and the last few years in that run he was a lock for 50 percent shooting from the field. In short, this was the Shawn Marion you remember:
Back in the day, if you drafted Marion in the 1st round, you could go in any direction: add shot-blockers; thrown in more scorers (he was always good for 18-20 ppg); pick up steals guys; whatever you wanted, Marion was a great support because he did everything well.
The best part, until he ceased being one of the top five athletes in the NBA and D'Antoni left Phoenix for New York and all the fun that comes from not coaching Stephon Marbury, Nate Robinson and Eddy Curry, was that the Suns never ran a play for Marion. He scored everything either in transition or by parking himself in the corner to bail out Steve Nash when he found himself swarmed in the paint after yet another drive to the lane. So you never had to worry about a change in game plan or Marion being frozen out. There was no up and down. Marion was easy money, a fantasy annuity. Pick a random year from his prime and go through the game logs. Amazing consistency. I aimed for him in as many drafts as I possibly could back in his (and my) heydays.
So Whatever Happened To...The Matrix?
This, for one thing:
That would be Carmelo Anthony blowing past Marion. The Matrix is not the same player he was in Phoenix a few seasons ago. His legs left him...the fantasy-friendliest coach believed all the hype of Seven Seconds or Less and dreamed he could rebuild the Knicks and left town (My 9th grade English teacher called this hubris)...he moved to teams with fewer and fewer possessions and little transition game...he realized he was set for life, was never going to win a championship and stopped caring. Marion is all about effort. You can't score 19 points a game without having a play drawn up for you without playing hard. Marion is a drifter now, picking up Dirk's scraps and rarely cracking 10 shots a game. He'll tell the Craig Sager he's "letting the game come to him." Actually, he won't because Sager has no reason to talk to Marion any more.
In other words, Marion is now a free agent in my main fantasy league. I dropped him and his replacement is, wait for it, Yi Jianlian. And, yes, I feel absolutely confident this was the right thing to do...even if a part of my fantasy soul died admitting this. I told the owners in my league they could feel free to add Marion to their squad, dream of the good ole days and then watch as Marion throws up another 10 point, 6 rebound, 1 block, 1 steal line. The man has attempted eight 3s all season and hit zero. The Matrix is gone. Only the old box scores remain.
Long live Yi!!!
Unsurprisingly, I got a lot of crap for dropping fantasy royalty for a major question mark, a major question mark who plays on the Nets, a major question mark who plays on the Nets and has no armpit hair! One owner wrote, "If I were a betting man, I'd bet that whoever picks up the Matrix will win the league."
Here's what I had to say to my skeptical league-mates:
Check Yi's line last night:
29 points on 11-of-20 shooting from the field, 7-of-9 from the line, 7 boards and 2 steals. Best stat? one attempted three. He's not living outside the arc and can repeatedly score on drives to the rim. He is faster than most power forwards in the association and will exploit them of the drive repeatedly. He is more than a 7-foot jump-shooter. He will help in points, the percentages, rebounds, 3-pointers and blocks. He should be owned in all 10-team and larger leagues, especially if your league counts body hair as a negative stat.
There is no Matrix; there is only Zuul.
And Zuul is going to average 12 points and 6 rebounds this season. He has yet to crack 20 points this season, something Yi Jianlian has done two of his last three games.
The only reason Zuul has a Yahoo ranking like he does (#79) is because of low turnovers. Well, it's hard to turn the ball over when it's never in your hands.
Unsurprisingly, Marion was picked up off the waiver wire immediately. I almost feel bad for his new owner. The best criticism that can be leveled against my move to drop Marion for Yi is that I could've angled for a trade. True, but I would have missed out on Yi and the haggling was unlikely to get me much more in value.
And, yes, I am planning on finding out how much the owner betting on this being a league-winning pick-up is willing to put on the line.
Players of FanIQ's Quick Fantasy should keep an eye on Yi. The Nets, in case you've been asleep the past two months, are terrible. They need players who aren't allergic to nylon. Yi isn't. He can create off the dribble, which is rarer than clean air in New Jersey. Only he and Devin Harris can be counted upon to break their man down on offense. Don't believe me? Watch him drive and dunk repeatedly on the Thunder. He also demonstrates excellent range on his jumper. Trust me this guy is dangerous and Kiki Vandeweghe, his coach, loves a scorer.
This is how it is in fantasy. We move on from the former stars far faster than the fans or (unfortunately) GMs of the game. We have to. It's our game too. And, yeah, this post is a long-winded justification for my move. I have a new man-crush and world need to know!
Shawn Marion Is Done as a Fantasy Asset