There is a new fad in the NBA: explosive point guards. Guys like Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Ty Lawson, and Jeff Teague are changing the way the point guard position is being played. And that might mean bad things for a traditional point guard like North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall.
Marshall wasn’t blessed with the quickness, explosiveness, or athleticism that the guys I named above were given. Marshall is your traditional run-of-the-mill point guard whose best assets are his leadership and getting others involved. When he was out with his wrist injury during the NCAA tournament, we saw North Carolina’s punishing attack soften a bit, barely escaping a feisty Ohio Bobcats team. The Heels were missing their play-maker, table-setter and floor-general. Some GM’s could take that into consideration and believe that Marshall is truly that influential on a team that will have three other players drafted in the first round. One GM might think “If Harrison Barnes can’t create his own offense without Marshall; Marshall must be pretty good at what he does.” Marshall puts his teammates in good positions to score; it’s just a matter of that player putting the ball in the basket. But while the leadership and play-making are satisfying, there is more to be concerned about with Marshall.
He will be one of the more reluctant shooters in the NBA at the point guard spot, sort of like Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio. Rubio dazzled fans all across the globe this season with his uncanny vision, surreal passing ability and stellar defense. At times, he was reluctant to shoot the basketball because, let’s face it, he isn’t a good shooter. Rubio doesn’t rely on athleticism, but more so on putting teammates in position to score. But the difference between he and Marshall (and there are many) is that Rubio has done this since the age of 14. The kid is an absolute wizard with the ball, understands passing angles, when to put spin on the ball, and sees the play before it happens. I am not saying Marshall can’t do that, but rather, I don’t see him doing that.
Marshall has a lot of disadvantages when it comes to playing in the NBA. His defense is great, making him vulnerable to committing ticky-tack fouls in a league where they call hand-checks on the regular. He isn’t quick, explosive, deceiving, or athletic. Coming into the NBA, he will be an average to below-average point guard in every category, physical or statistical.
One thing I do like about him, and I totally agree with the Mark Jackson comparison on NBADraft.net, is that he is a bigger point guard. He is listed at 6’4 and almost 200 lbs, giving him a size advantage, strength-wise over most point guards. I just don’t know if he possesses the foot-speed that will be required to keep up with the majority of NBA point guards.
If Mark Jackson was anything in his NBA career, it was crafty. Marshall will need to have a lot of that in his back pocket.