When the Phoenix Suns traded away Shawn Marion and obtained Shaquille ONeal, they were in first place in the Western Conference standings...since the trade they have fallen to sixth.
The thinking was that with O'Neal plugging up the middle, the Suns could move Amare Stoudemire to his more natural forward position.
This would give the Suns more flexibility, with Stoudemire playing forward instead of getting into foul trouble trying to execute at center.
This would also allow Shaq to really play without being the focus of the offense, hopefully reducing his injuries. The Suns also needed help in their half court offense, something that the aging Shaq could easily provide.
Fast forward one month and team executives are singing a different tune, thinking the trade just may have been a mistake.
Many failed to realize that Marion had been the Suns' best all-around perimeter defender. At 6’7”, Marion was able to defend well, run the fast break, and grab rebounds.
So how will this trade pan out when the playoffs arrive?
For starters, the Suns are giving up too many points.
In seven games with O'Neal covering the paint, the Suns are giving up 109.5 points per game. That's five more points than they surrendered with Marion.
It may be too early to declare the trade a complete bust, but in the Western Conference, there's no room for error.