Orlando Magic: Why They’re the New Favorites in the Eastern Conference

December 19th, 2010 by Jonathan Tjarks Leave a reply »
Sometimes it's not what a basketball player does that makes him valuable, but what he allows other players to do.

A good point guard makes other players better by "creating" open looks at the basket—either by driving into the lane and drawing defensive help or pushing the pace and forcing the defense to scramble.  This is why Steve Nash won two MVPs in Phoenix—the field-goal percentages of Amar'e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion, the Suns' All-NBA forwards, went up dramatically after Nash came to the desert.  He made them better offensive players.

The converse is also true.  Just as Nash made Marion a better offensive player, Marion made Nash a better defensive player.  In Dallas, the Mavericks had no defensive stoppers, and Nash was forced to defend Mike Bibby and Bobby Jackson in the playoffs—not a good look for him.  In Phoenix, Marion could guard quick point guards and Nash could be "hid" on guys like Bruce Bowen instead of sticking Tony Parker.  

** This is why I think Marion, not Nash, was the Suns' MVP.  Defense wins championships, and Marion was an amazing defensive player.  The number ...

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