NBA Draft 2012: Could Kendall Marshall Be the New Orleans Hornets' Jeremy Lin?

Percy DinozoCorrespondent IApril 24, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 11:  Kendall Marshall #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on against the Florida State Seminoles during the Final Game of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conference Tournament at Philips Arena on March 11, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The New Orleans Hornets have two selections in the 2012 NBA draft, and they need to use one on North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall.

Which one, however, remains to be seen.

With two games remaining on the schedule, the Hornets could fall from third-worst record to as high as sixth-worst record if they win both games.  If that happens, they could in theory end up with their first of two picks being the ninth overall selection.

Marshall, a UNC sophomore, is projected in some mock draft boards as high as eighth and as low as 18th.

Marshall might not have an immediate impact, but he would represent a very smart pick.

Chris Paul's shoes have been filled admirably by Jarrett Jack, a 28-year-old journeyman point guard.  He has posted a career year: 15.6 points, 6.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game all represent career highs.

That is a warning flag.

Due to the rash of injuries (most notably to Eric Gordon), Jack has functioned as one of the best players on one of the worst teams—much like a marginally talented player might post gaudy numbers for an expansion team.

A great comparison would be Greg Anthony: originally of the New York Knicks, he was selected as the Vancouver Grizzlies' top pick in the 1995 expansion draft.

With career averages of 7.3 points, 4.0 assists and 1.9 rebounds per game, Anthony was a mediocre NBA player best known for his gritty defense.

In his first year with Vancouver, he raised his output to 14.0 points, 6.9 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game.  Jack's increase in production parallels Anthony's.

Kendall Marshall would be the point guard of the future for the Hornets: Pairing him with Eric Gordon would elevate Gordon's game to an elite level.

Marshall has displayed great court vision, averaging nearly 10 assists per game, and routinely finds an open teammate for an easy bucket.

He does have a tendency to turn the ball over, he admits: "As many good passes as I've made, I have to settle down and not get overzealous about it, because I've thrown some away."

His critics also point out that Kendall Marshall is not overly athletic, which would put him at a disadvantage when guarding the NBA's quicker point guards.

Great court vision, high assists, high turnovers, considered to be lacking athleticism: are we discussing Kendall Marshall or Jeremy Lin?

Marshall is listed as 6'4", 195 pounds.  Lin is a nearly-identical 6'3", 200 pounds.

Like Lin, Marshall may also not be ready to start for his team as a rookie.

Coming off of the bench in his first year would allow Marshall the time to adjust to the speed of the NBA game while also learning from veteran Jack.

Jack, whose contract runs out after next season, would then give way to Marshall.

And if Marshall can match the production of the undrafted, previously-unheard-of Lin in his second year (not the "Linsanity" numbers, but his season averages of 14.6 points, 6.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds), the Hornets would basically have this year's Jarret Jack—but with tremendous upside.