When Marcus Banks showed up in Toronto with Shawn Marion as part of the Jermaine O’Neal trade most fans grudgingly accepted this as part of their punishment for escaping O’Neal’s enormous contract.
It wasn’t that they had seen Banks play and held that against him; it was more that they hadn’t seen him play and virtually no one had anything good to say about him. But to be fair, over the past three seasons, almost no one has seen him play!
Now in his seventh season, “Marcus” Arthur L. Banks III has passed through six different NBA teams, three teams in the past two seasons. Banks' biggest contribution to his team recently has been as needed salary to complete the trades of Marion to Miami for Shaquille O’Neal and the Marion to Toronto for Jermaine O’Neal.
If Toronto could have done it, it’s highly likely they would have shipped him off to Dallas with Marion this offseason, but that deal didn’t need any filler to get done.
It wasn’t always like this for Banks.
As a senior in high school, Banks’ basketball team was league and state champions and Banks was first team all-conference and first team all-state. In junior college, Banks was regional player of the year, first team NJCAA All-American, Conference MVP, and led his team in scoring with 17 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4 assists per game.
When Banks got to UNLV in 2001 he was 6’ 2’’, 200 lbs and 20-years-old. Tough and strong, Banks quickly became a leader with the Runnin' Rebels. In his first season, Banks had 15.8 points on 46.9% shooting, 3.3 boards, 3 assists, 2.2 steals, and 3.2 turnovers in 32 ½ minutes.
The following season, Banks improved across the entire stat line with 20.3 points on 51.4% shooting, 3.4 boards, 5.5 assists, 2.8 steals, and 3.9 turnovers in 36 minutes. Good enough to make Marcus Banks an NBA lottery pick!
Now one might have noticed something that has plagued Banks for his entire NBA career. He had an awful lot of turnovers for a four year college senior. But in the 2003 NBA Draft, the Grizzles picked Marcus Banks 13th overall and promptly shipped him off to Boston in a trade.
So what did the scouts see in Marcus Banks, a quick, strong, athletic guard who has a good handle and the ability to be a lock down defender. But he also tends to gamble too much, over-dribble, and seems to have trouble reading defenses and offenses at times.
In 2 ½ seasons in Boston, Banks managed 5.5 points shooting 40 percent from the field, with 1.5 boards, 2 assists, and 1.3 turnovers in 15 minutes and was shipped off to Minnesota mid-season. Banks just could never find his college scoring touch in Boston and with a 1.5:1 assist to turnover ratio, he wasn’t going to make it as a passer.
The high point of Banks' NBA career started and ended in Minnesota. For 40 games, the NBA saw what most would have expected from Banks’ college record. He started 28 of those 40 games and Banks created a stat line of 12 points on 47.9% shooting, 2.9 boards, 4.7 assists, 1.2 steals, and 2.4 turnovers in 30.7 minutes.
And while a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio would put him at around 75th for guards in the league and that’s not good for a true point guard, there are good combo guards at this level. And, the rest of the stats made it look like Banks had finally found his game.
So, the Phoenix Suns made Marcus Banks a wealthy man with a free agent offer during the offseason. Oops!
A season and a half later, with Banks experiencing even worse results than in Boston, Phoenix managed to include him in a trade with Miami.
Briefly in Miami, Banks did find his shooting stroke again, but ESPN’s Hollinger sums up this improvement best. “He's a shoot-first guard who doesn't see the floor and turns it over too much, so even when he's shooting well he's not that valuable.”
Not surprisingly, at the first opportunity Miami included Banks in a trade and he now resides during the season in Toronto. Where, of course, he is often rumored to be involved in the next Raptors trade!