When you talk about last season’s North Carolina team it can not be too long before you get to its floor general, sophomore Kendall Marshall. And when you speak about the best pure passer in the college game for the last two years once again it won’t be too long before the point guard’s name comes up. As a matter of fact in both conversations the young man could easily be the first one named. If you follow UNC as a whole, or college basketball in general, you know that the one question that comes to mind last season in Chapel Hill was: what would have happened if Marshall had not broken his wrist (and elbow) in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. But now, for the young guard it’s about playing at the next level, which means everything will be harder.
We all know that Marshall (6’4″/198 lbs) can do the work on the offensive side when it comes to running a break, working the half court offense, protecting the ball (3.5 to 1 Asst/TO) and most of all finding the open man for the best shot (9.8 assissts). Playing in the ACC, even if it might not be the best basketball conference anymore, someone who can have those types of statistics is definitely headed to the next level to play. On the other side, while #5 did come on late in his second year under head coach Roy Williams, KM was not a scoring threat. Add to that the fact that the second year college player was also not the best defender, and you can see why most mock drafts have him out of the lottery picks. All of this means that if he wants to earn minutes on the court in the National Basketball Association he will have show off his positives as much as possible while working on his negatives to improve them more and more. In other words, while there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Marshall will be playing at the next level, he ha work to do in order to do so for the long run.
The good thing is that I believe Marshall can improve his shooting, especially if a defense backs off of him, as they did in college. He will also benifit from getting a bit better than his 69% free throw shooting, especially if he is going to drive to the basket with his sturdy frame. Overall the upside for the young guard is pretty good and it will be showed especially if he was end up with a squad that likes to run and is in need of a floor general that is definitely pass first minded. But, even in a league like the NBA, where defense is a word that few use, KM needs to work a whole heck of a lot on that side of the ball. Also to be noted, in the National Basketball Association, where one on one is a more prevelant in team’s offense than it is in the NCAA, Marshall will need to work hard not to be a liability while on the floor for his squad.
In the end, with the talent that Kendall Marshall has, I believe that it would be best for him to be drafted by a team that needs a long term solution at the point but does not need to insert the forner Tar Heel into the starting line up from the get go. Going to the Phoenix Suns at #13, where soon down the line he could be replace Steve Nash, would be a very good fit as Marshall would learn from one of the best at the position and would not have to feel pressured into producing from the start. Another squad that could be a good fit are the Dallas Mavericks at #17, if the team from the lone star state does not get Derron Williams from the New Jersey Nets. In my non professional opinion I believe that this young man will never find his way to an NBA All-Star Game, however, because of his passing skills might just make one of his team mates good enough to go to the funnest weekend in pro basketball. Meaning, that just like in Carolina, Marshall will be able to elevate the ones around him due to his great passing skills, and that might be good enough to have him stick around for quite sometimes in the NBA.