Could Stephon Marbury Be Jameer Nelson's Replacement in Orlando?

Taylor SmithAnalyst IFebruary 4, 2009

The loss of All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson for possibly the rest of the season to a torn labrum means it's decision time for the Orlando Magic, who sit comfortably atop the Southeast Division, nine games ahead of resurgent Atlanta.

The Magic don't really have a player on their current roster that can step in and capably fill the void left by Nelson. 

The backup is Anthony Johnson, who, quite frankly, isn't cut out to be a starter in the league. He's a decent backup, but that's all he is. 

Hedo Turkoglu is a player that often handles the ball, but the simple fact that he's not a true point guard presents several issues. Most notably is the problem of having to guard opposing point guards. At 6-10, Hedo isn't made to guard guys that are typically 7-10 inches shorter than he is. 

Courtney Lee or a D-Leaguer are also options to step in. But if you're the Magic, who have realistic championship chances this season, would you really trust your starting point duties to a rookie or a guy that's been playing in the minors all season? Not likely. 

The most viable, and most intriguing option for the Magic, is probably to bring in Stephon Marbury, assuming the Knicks buy him out sometime before March 1. If they release Starbury any time on or after that date, he won't be eligible for a playoff roster, thus rendering his potential signing to a team like Orlando essentially useless. 

Although he hasn't set foot on an NBA floor as an active player in about a year, Marbury could potentially give the Magic quite the boost from the 1 position.

Much has been made of Marbury's off-the-court issues recently, but when he's on the floor he's a very dangerous player. For his career, Marbury is averaging 19.7 points and 7.8 assists per game. During the 2006-07 season, the last season in which he played a significant number of games (74), he averaged 16.4 points and 5.4 assists a night for the Knicks, while shooting at a clip of about 43% from the field.

Jameer Nelson's numbers so far this season: he's averaging 16.7 points and 5.4 assists per game on 50% shooting. Those statistics were good enough to earn Nelson a reserve spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Nelson's three-point shooting percentage (about 45%) is also quite a bit better than Marbury's was in '06-'07 (about 36%). 

While the shooting percentages are substantially better for Nelson, the points and assists are almost identical between the two players. 

Assuming he and the Knicks can get their act together and work a buyout, Stephon Marbury seems like he would be a perfect fill-in for Nelson, whether or not he returns this season from the injury.

If Marbury shows that he can be a team player and play up to the level that he's capable of, the Magic shouldn't miss a beat with him running the show.