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The Ringer 1999 re-draft: Shawn Marion goes No. 1 overall

PHOENIX - MAY 9: Shawn Marion #31 of the Phoenix Suns dunks against the Dallas Mavericks in Game one of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2005 NBA Playoffs at America West Arena on May 9, 2005 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

In 1999, the Phoenix Suns used the No. 9 pick in the draft to select a player who would be a staple of their success over the next decade: Shawn Marion.

A borderline Hall of Fame candidate, Marion was integral as a versatile player on both offense and defense who could guard one through five and play either forward spot or center on offense.

In The Ringer’s 1999 mock draft, Bill Simmons said he would take Marion No. 1 overall.

“His 2005-07 Suns run, where he’s basically … 20 points a game, 11 rebounds a game, two steals, 1.6 blocks, 50% shooting. … If 2005 Shawn Marion shows up right now in 2020, you could potentially play him as a 5,” Simmons said in the podcast.

Simmons, Chris Ryan and Joe House discussed how Marion would thrive in today’s era of play — as Simmons put it, Marion was “born too soon.”

“You could go super small ball with him as like your Draymond (Green) basically and I think he could’ve pulled it off,” Simmons said.

Ryan agreed.

“I think there’s shades of (Scottie) Pippen in his game, but I think that absolutely it was a matter of when he came into the league,” Ryan said.

In one sentence House was asked to describe Marion as a player:

“Crazy motor, highly versatile, super energizer, athletic contributor,” House summarized.

Marion was a four-time All-Star and made the All-NBA Third Team twice. He led the league in steals twice and, in 2005 and 2006, was top-three in rebounds despite being listed at just 6-foot-7.

He capped off his accolades by winning a title with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, helping take down LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

“The pride, the defensive pride, a real throwback kind of example, I would say, and he was crucial to that 2011 team in that late stage of his career,” House said.

In this mock draft, Marion was selected No. 1 by the Chicago Bulls, ahead of Manu Ginobli, who was selected No. 2 instead of his original, unbelievable position of No. 57 overall.

This forced the Suns to pick someone else at No. 9.

House, who controlled the pick, elected to go with Andrei Kirilenko, who in real life was picked No. 24 overall by the Utah Jazz.

Kirilenko made one All-Star game, made three All-Defensive teams and led the league in blocks in 2005.

“I really, really, really like Andrei Kirilenko,” House said. “As a two-way guy, as a fierce defender, and this Phoenix team took Shawn Marion, I think Andrei Kirilenko and Shawn Marion are kind of like cut from the same cloth.”

At 6-foot-9, Kirilenko was an elite defender as a forward who could slide around positionally.

He’s one of the most frequent 5×5 club members, which indicates a single game in which a player records five points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks apiece.

Kirilenko had three such games in his career. The only other players to have multiple games with these numbers over their careers are Hakeem Olajuwon (six times) and Julius Erving (twice).

Wing defenders sliding around one through five are still commodities today, but they’re not quite as rare as in the mid-2000s.

“It was basically him and Marion as these Swiss army knife, could play any position, could guard anybody,” Simmons said.

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