This past off-season, Cavs general manager Danny Ferry invested 36.5 million dollars on Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones.
At the time, the moves seemed to make sense. The Cavs were the worst three point shooting team in the league last season despite the fact that double teams to LeBron and Z yielded a plethora of open looks. Not only were we the worst, we were wide open for a majority of these attempts. I still have nightmares of Jeff McInnis, Ira Newble, and Lucious Harris gunning away and missing badly.
In Marshall, they were getting a guy who just two seasons ago was the only player in league history to finish in the top 25 in rebounds, blocks, and three point percentage. Marshall hit 41.6% of his three point attempts the previous season, and also figured to be good insurance for Drew Gooden, who the Cavs knew was coming up on free agency.
Damon Jones was added to provide a change of pace at the point to Eric Snow, and also to knock down three pointers. Jones attempted a mind-boggling 521 three pointers last season for Miami, AND MADE 43.2% OF THEM! The Cavs figured he would feast off double teams to LeBron and Z here just as he did to Shaq and Wade a season ago.
It all seemed perfect at the time. One problem. These guys can’t shoot anymore.
It’s gotten past the point of peculiar. These two are shooting close to 10% worse this year from behind the arc. That’s like a hitter going from .330 to .240. Or a running back going from five yards a carry to three.
Marshall has shot 41.6% and 40.3% the last two seasons. He’s shooting 31.7% this year. 306 of his 502 shots have been from long range, so it’s no surprise his overall shooting % is just 38.6%. And while Marshall has gotten a little better as of late, he’s no longer doing many of the other things he used to while on the court. He’s become content sitting outside the arc, waiting for a LeBron drive and kick out, and swooping in to grab the occasional rebound. Marshall is on pace to attempt 440 threes this year, which will be the fifth straight season he’s shot more than the year before.
For example, Donyell blocked 124 shots two seasons ago. He’s on pace to block 44 this season. And he turns 33 years old in a couple months. The chances are much more likely that this is the Donyell we’re stuck with than they are that he will return to being the active player that we saw kill the Cavs in Chicago, Toronto, and Utah. And he’s owed 21.5 million over the life of his four year deal.
Donyell Marshall three-point attempts
’05-’06: on pace for 440’04-’05: 363’03-’04: 325’02-’03: 87’01-’02: 42
With Damon Jones, it appears he just happened to have a career year as he entered free agency, and the Cavs got snookered into overpaying him. They gave Jones a four year, fifteen million dollar deal. It was no sooner than the press conference announcing the signing that we got a preview of Damon’s ego, as he dubbed himself the best shooter on the planet. I chuckled, but didn’t slam him for saying it. Again, dude made 43.2% of his long range bombs last year, and shot more than anyone in the league.
Jones is shooting 35.3% this year from three, his lowest percentage since becoming a regular in the league in 2000. However, Jones wasn’t always as proficient as he was last season from three.
Damon Jones three point shooting %
’05-’06: 35.3%’04-’05: 43.2%’03-’04: 35.9%’02-’03: 36.4%’01-’02: 37.1%’00-’01: 36.4%
275 of Damon’s 364 shot attempts have been from three this year, and he’s only attempted 40 free throws. He is a clearly one dimensional offensive player. And poor shooting aside, he is doing little else to help this team. He’s a terrible and undersized defender, and his passing, ball handling, and fast break skills are all average at absolute best. Damon is averaging 1.9 assists and 1.7 rebounds this year. He averaged 4.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds last year playing similar minutes. What the hell happened to this guy?
If Jones and Marshall were shooting anywhere near their percentages from a year ago, the Cavaliers would be the second highest scoring team in the league, and may have the 4th or 5th best record in the league. The pair combines to attempt more than ten three pointers a game.
Can these two turn it around and recapture last year’s magic? Or did we simply over pay for two guys who had career seasons they will be unable to replicate?