In my opinion, Kendall Marshall is the best pure point guard in the 2012 NBA draft. He helped lead the North Carolina Tar Heels into the NCAA Tournament. He suffered a wrist injury in the team's Round of 32 matchup with Creighton.
The loss of Marshall was too much for the team to overcome in the Final Four.
It is sensible to consider Marshall the nation's best playmaker; his 351 assists were the most in the nation, and his 9.8 dimes per game was second.
What Marshall doesn't have in raw athleticism he makes up for in basketball IQ and leadership. Chad Ford of ESPN considers him the second best point guard in the draft behind Damian Lillard.
While Lillard may be a more dynamic player that happens to play the point guard, Marshall is the best at running a team.
Wherever Marshall goes, he'll make his teammates better, and that is what many general managers will be looking for in a point guard.
Here is a scouting report on Marshall that highlights his strengths and weaknesses.
(Height, weight and stats per statsheet.com)
Weight: 195 pounds
School: North Carolina
Date of Birth: August 19, 1991
Best NBA Position: Point Guard
College Stats: (Key Stats Underlined) 8.1 PPG, 33 MPG, 46.7 FG%, 35.4 3FG%, 69.6 FT%, 9.8 APG, 2.6 RPG, 0.2 BPG, 1.2 SPG
Athleticism - B-
Size - A
Intangibles - A
Rebounding - B-
Ball Handling - A+
Defense - B
Shooting - B+
Passing - A+
Post Game - C+
Basketball IQ - A+
Upside - A-
Marshall has great size for the point guard position at 6'4", and his vision is stellar. He wants to set up teammates more than anything. He's a natural leader; you could see how much UNC missed him during the latter parts of the NCAA tournament.
Marshall knows how to get the ball to the right man in a way that allows them to succeed. Even though he prefers to set teammates up, he is a decent shooter from distance, so he will keep teams honest. On defense Marshall has very quick hands; he is adept at the reach-in pilfer.
He uses this skill, his ball-control and a great basketball IQ to counter his lack of foot speed.
He is such a good passer and creator that I expect Marshall to be in the top 10 in assists by his third year in the NBA.
Here is a highlight reel for Marshall displaying his playmaking ability:
Who will be a better player?
Marshall is not a freakish athlete, and while I think he'll get by on size and vision offensively, defensively he will have issues with smaller, quicker guards.
He isn't exactly a defensive liability, but teams can't expect a lockdown defender either. Marshall can seem gun-shy at times when he has the ball on the perimeter. His shot is more of a set-shot than a jump shot, and he seems content to only shoot it when absolutely necessary.
Because Marshall has good size at the point without a ton of athleticism, it would be smart for him to shore up his post game. This would open another aspect of his offense.
NBA Player Comparison:
Bigger, Better Shooting Mark Jackson
Jackson, of course, is the current Golden State Warriors' head coach. But before that, Jackson was one of the most prolific assist men in league history.
In his 17-year career, Jackson averaged eight assists and 9.6 points per game. I believe Marshall has the ability to be that type of player. Jackson had to depend on his savvy and vision, as he also was not a blow-by-you athlete.
But Marshall is bigger, and early on, he has a better jump shot than Jackson had at this stage in his career..
Jackson won Rookie of the Year in the 1987-88 season, and he made one All Star game (1989). I don't see Marshall winning the Rookie of the Year, but I do believe he will have a solid career.
Mid to Late Lottery
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