The Summer Losses: Marquis Daniels

Over the next week, we’re going to break down exactly what the Pacers have lost and gained in the free agent moves that went down this summer in two series of cleverly named posts “The Summer Losses” and “The Summer Gains.” See, while you were out enjoying barbecues, water skis and strange, erotic journeys from Milan to Minsk, we were toiling away in the 8.9 Lab watching film of Rasho Nesterovic and analyzing the statistical variation in Earl Watson’s assist-to-turnover ratio. (Ed note: I did neither of those things.)

Without need for any extracurricular ado, let’s kick things off with Marquis Daniels.

marquis daniels

Marquis sells some shoes for Yums.

Marquis joined the Pacers in the summer of 2006, coming to the team in a trade for Austin Croshere. While Austin had been a fan favorite for his timely threes and overall quality play throughout the Pacers Finals run in 2000, his bloated contract had, along with the deals given to Jonathan Bender, Jamaal Tinsley and Jermaine O’Neal, hamstrung front office flexibility, leaving many to view the trade as Indiana getting a quality, young, athletic swing man in exchange for an overpaid player who never lived up to expectations.

Marquis fit in well immediately, providing some much-needed scoring, slashing and ball-handling for the second unit while also playing above average defense on the other end. Unfortunately, he was soon injured — something that would become a hallmark of Marquis’ time in Indianapolis.

Year two was more productive as he remained healthy enough to play in a career-high 74 games, which is 12 more than his second-best total of 62 with the Mavs. Even though he was physically able to play more, he didn’t seem to be as effective as he was during his first year as a Pacer. It would be disingenuous to call his play lethargic, because he almost always played hard and attacked the paint whether he was penetrating or cutting through the lane. But Marquis always had an aura of disinterest surrounding him on the court and a very mechanical approach to most plays. I’m not sure how exactly you can seem as disinterested as Marquis while also being as active as he was, but he managed.

Ultimately, he was one of the worst-shooting guards in the NBA and now playing under Coach Jim O’Brien, who runs one of the most jumpshot-happy offenses in the NBA. Under Rick Carlisle’s system, Marquis’ slashing and perimeter activity allowed him to find seams in the defense as opposing players rotated to double Jermaine O’Neal or stop penetration from Jamaal Tinsley and Stephen Jackson. But with Jimmy’s offense more geared toward maintaining proper spacing on the perimeter and a revamped roster that had few people able to force the defense to rotate by driving or posting up, Marquis was forced to just stand around on the wing more often. And when he found himself wide-open catching a swing pass behind the three-point line, he was beholden to take the shot for the sake of the offense — even when neither he nor Pacer fans wanted to see another flat jumper clang off the outside of the rim. The result: a player who had never taken more than 36 threes in a season during his pro career took 102 in his first year under O’Brien, and that doesn’t even include all the long jumpers he took from a foot inside the line.

In year three, Marquis seemed to shake some of that funk and get back to finding a way to be his old self again; he was again looking like the dynamic, jack-of-all-trades reserve player that a lot of NBA scouts and fans thought he could become. Just as everything was comint together, however, injuries derailed what had been a pretty good first half of the season, during which Quis had recorded 13.3 ppg on 45.7% shooting in just 30 minutes per night. But after the All-Star break, he would only play in 15 more of the team’s 28 remaining games.

And just like that, his tenure in Indiana was over. The team quickly declined a contract option to retain his services for another season and, after the possibility of mutually beneficial sign-and-trade with Boston proved futile, Danny Ainge signed Marquis as a free agent outright.

During a media conference call yesterday, ESPN analyst Jon Barry was discussing what type of player the Celtics had acquired and described Marquis as somewhat of a man without a position. According to Barry, “he’s not a shooting guard because he can’t shoot.” Nor is he a point guard because even though he is a serviceable ball-handler who can push the ball up the court and handle it capably on the perimeter, he really doesn’t have the ability to run an NBA offense. And at a wiry 6’6″, Barry doesn’t believe that Marquis has the frame nor the bulk to really match up with most small forwards.

While Quis may not have a discernible position, he does have one elite NBA skill; the man can finish in the paint. He does not excel off the dribble getting to the rim, although he can take it off the bounce from three-point line to the cup on occasion. More often, however, he will either penetrate into the paint right below the foul line or catch the ball there while slashing and then slither up through traffic and hit a six-foot leaner. His ability to make short jumpers in the paint is uncanny.

And with the Celtics offense in need of some scoring off the bench, yet not reliant on Marquis to do to much, Celtics fans should be happy to see him scoring around the rim, pushing the ball up the court and finally giving the team a guy who can serve as a backup point guard to Rondo if necessary. Marquis can never be a primary distributor, but a combination of Pierce and him on the perimeter will give them enough secondary ball-handlers to let Rajon catch a breather here and there.

But, honestly, who cares about Boston?

Getting back to what the Pacers have lost, let’s look at the numbers.

Marquis Daniels’ 2008-09 PER of 12.88 was the highest total he posted during his three-year Pacer stint, following last year’s 11.65 (12th best on that year’s roster) and the previous year’s 11.67 (which was 13th best on the team that year). Still, that 2008-09 number made him only the 38th best NBA shooting guard last year when ranked by PER.

For some perspective, here are the guys closest to him:

36. Rashard McCants – 13.03 [he's not currently in the league]
37. Tony Allen – 12.96 [the guy who Ainge was trying to unload in a S&T for Quis]
38. Marquis Daniels – 12.88
39. Sasha Vujacic - 12.65 [good shooter, but have you seen his haircut?]
40. Bobby Jackson – 12.40 [a 36-year-old shooter who shot 30.5% from three last year]

And as far as comparing Marquis’ value to that of his teammates, here is how his numbers stacked up against the others on the Pacers roster in a couple of key statistical categories during his Indy years. (Stat – Rank – Total)

Marquis Daniels Stats in 2008-09

PPG – 5th (13.6)
APG – 7th (2.1)
RPG – 4th (4.6)

PER – 10th (12.8)
TS% – 13th (49.1%)
ORtg – 12th (99)
DRtg – 10th (110)
WS – 9th (1.3)
OWS – 12th (-0.1)
DWS – 6th (1.4)

Marquis Daniels Stats in 2007-08

PPG – 8th (8.2)
APG – 8th (1.9)
RPG – 7th (2.9)

PER – 12th (11.6)
TS% – 12th (.487)
ORtg – 12th (95)
DRtg – 6th (107)
WS – 8th (1.0)
OWS – 16th (-0.8)
DWS – 5th (1.7)

Marquis Daniels Stats in 2006-07

PPG – 9th (7.1)
APG – 11th (1.3 )
RPG – 13th (1.8)

PER – 13th (11.6)
TS% – 13th (.506)
ORtg – 15th (97)
DRtg – 15th (108)
WS – 14th (0.6)
OWS – 15th (-0.1)
DWS – 10th (0.7)

* PER – Player Efficiency Rating | TS% – True Shooting Percentage | ORtg – Offensive Rating | DRtg – Defensive Rating | WS – Win Shares | OWS – Offensive Win Shares | DWS – Defensive Win Shares

Going through the numbers and contemplating my view of how his game suits the Pacers needs, I don’t see losing Marquis as a huge blow to Indiana.

If Mike Dunleavy can’t bounce back to form, the loss of a good ball-handling guard will hurt. But the Pacers back court should be no worse for wear, assuming that Mike can at least play as many games as Quis did last year and factoring in the acquisition of Luther Head, who is admittedly not as dynamic as Daniels but is probably a better fit in O’Brien’s offense given his shooting ability. And defensively, Dahntay Jones should make up for any shortfalls on the other end of the court. It would be nice if Larry Bird could find a mad scientist to combine Head’s offense with Dahntay’s defense, but even if that laboratory experiment remains impossible, I don’t think the Pacers will face a huge drop off in any area of the game based on the fact that Marquis Daniels is gone.

The loss of Jarrett Jack, however, will be much more difficult to replace — but we’ll save that discussion for tomorrow.

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Tags: Austin Croshere Boston Celtics Dahntay Jones Danny Ainge Jim O'Brien John Barry Luther Head Marquis Daniels Mike Dunleavy Jr Rick Carlisle The Summer Losses/Gains

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