RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Kendall MarshallPosted by EJacoby on June 19th, 2012
The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.
Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.
Player Name: Kendall Marshall
School: North Carolina
Height/Weight: 6’4” / 195 lbs.
NBA Position: Point Guard
Projected Draft Range: Late Lottery / Mid-First Round
Overview: Kendall Marshall was the best passer in college basketball by a wide margin during his two seasons at North Carolina; only Iona’s Scott Machado came close to Marshall as a distributor. Marshall has elite floor awareness as well as a special ability to read defenses, and his pass-first mentality led to tremendous assist numbers playing alongside several great players at UNC. His 9.8 assists per game, 44.5% assist percentage, and 3.5 assist-to-turnover ratio as a sophomore all ranked second in the country. He led the Tar Heels to a #1 NCAA Tournament seed and was the team’s most indispensable player. After he broke his wrist late in a round of 32 win against Creighton, the Marshall-less Heels barely hung on to beat #13-seed Ohio in overtime in the Sweet Sixteen before falling to Kansas in the Elite Eight. Some people view Marshall as a ‘one-trick pony’ because he doesn’t do much else well besides passing the ball (8.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG). He also lacks the explosiveness that most NBA point guards have these days, and he really struggles defensively with limited lateral quickness. But his athletic demise seems exaggerated, as Marshall has great size (6’4”) and a strong body for a point guard and actually displayed some interesting driving and finishing ability at the rim. He wasn’t asked to create his own offense at UNC and didn’t look comfortable when he did so; he didn’t shoot the ball with confidence and simply preferred to pass to teammates in all situations. But he came on strong at the end of the season and showed some scoring prowess, plus he had decent season-long shooting numbers (46.7% from the field, 35.4% from three, 69.6% from the line). There’s untapped scoring potential in Marshall if he works hard in that area.
Will Translate to the NBA: Marshall is an elite passer and will step in as a game-changing distributor in the league. He brings great intangibles to a team, making all of his teammates better and displaying natural leadership qualities. Marshall can run an offense smoothly and become a coach on the floor to direct players on both ends. His great size will allow him to read defenses even against bigger NBA players, and he loves to run and makes every perfect pass in transition. While just an average shooter, Marshall showed a willingness to take the open threes that he will surely get in the league as defenders sag off of him.
Needs Work: Marshall has obvious weaknesses that he must improve on, starting with the defensive end. He struggles with perimeter defense due to limited lateral quickness and short arms (6’5.5” wingspan), meaning that strong guards are able to blow right by him. He finished with the sixth-slowest agility test score at the Combine, with only four centers and a wing player scoring worse. He must work hard on basic defensive principles to hold his own one-on-one. He also needs to add more scoring presence, improving everything from his outside shooting to one-on-one moves to his finishing ability at the rim. Adding a mid-range floater or pull-up jumper would do wonders for his scoring productivity. He also could rebound much better for his size.
Comparison Players: Take your pick of pure, pass-first NBA point guard, and Kendall Marshall will draw solid comparisons. But you also then have to identify someone who lacks scoring ability and struggles defensively. That all applies to a guy like Andre Miller, who’s had a long and productive career thanks mainly to his awesome floor awareness and passing skills. Marshall could also surprise some people with an improved jump shot and finishing ability, just like Ricky Rubio did as a rookie last season. Marshall will be competing with Rubio as the league’s best young passer, and perhaps its best overall passer as well.
Best Case Scenario: Marshall has special ability as an orchestrator which could afford him a long career in the NBA. At worst, he projects as a backup point who injects life into a second unit with his passing ability. But in the best case, Marshall can become much, much more than that. Should he start knocking down open shots with consistency and avoid becoming a black hole on defense, then Marshall can play heavy starter’s minutes as a championship-level point guard – just like he did at UNC. He’ll likely never make an All-Star team because of his limited explosiveness and scoring prowess, but he’s such a good passer that he can make teammates much better as a coveted asset.
Best NBA Fit: With all the great potential in Marshall’s contributions, there’s still the concern that his limitations become crippling. If he’s an obvious defensive liability who can’t shoot or score on drives, then Marshall won’t make it very far. Therefore, he needs important development time to work on his weaknesses. His best NBA fit is with a team that drafts him as its long-term starting point guard and takes all the necessary steps to develop his game. The Phoenix Suns at #13 as Steve Nash’s replacement makes sense. The same applies for Jason Kidd and the Dallas Mavericks at #17. The Houston Rockets could easily scoop him at #14 or #16, as they may end up losing Goran Dragic to free agency and are rumored to be shopping Kyle Lowry (or a re-signed Dragic) in a trade this summer.
Scout’s Take (from NBADraft.net): “UNC’s collapse after his wrist injury displayed just how integral he was to the team. Marshall might be the top passer the college game has seen since Jason Kidd.”
*This post was contributed by RTC’s Evan Jacoby. He can be found on Twitter @evanJacoby.