NBA Draft 2012: How Kendall Marshall Compares to Recent UNC Point Guards

Paul GrossingerAnalyst IIMay 30, 2012

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 25:  Injured point guard Kendall Marshall #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels supports his teammates from the bench against the Kansas Jayhawks  during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Midwest Regional Final at Edward Jones Dome on March 25, 2012 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Kendall Marshall is one of the NBA draft’s most interesting prospects.  He is a true, pure point guard and one of the best passers in the college game. 

Despite his lack of game-changing individual offense, Marshall became the most important player on the 2011-2012 Tar Heels by averaging 9.8 assists on the season. 

He even stepped it up in the NCAA tournament, averaging over 10 points and 10 assists per game before injuries kept him out and contributed to North Carolina’s tournament exit.

So, now that he is entering the 2012 NBA Draft, how does Marshall rank against North Carolina’s most recent point guards?

Marshall is certainly better than his direct predecessor, Larry Drew II.  Drew was the highly touted 2008 John Wooden High School Player of the Year, expected to take over the Tar Heels’ point guard position and star for years. 

However, in his lone starting season in 2010, Drew led the team to a 20-17 record and an NIT berth.  The following year, Marshall wrestled the job from him as a freshman early in the season and he transferred.

But is Marshall better than Ty Lawson, the last great North Carolina point guard?

That’s a hard one. 

Lawson was one of the most talented players in recent Tar Heels history.  He led the team from 2006 to 2009.  Along with Tyler Hansbrough, he led North Carolina to the 2009 NCAA Tournament Championship, which remains the golden moment in the Tar Heels’ recent history.

When Lawson went to the draft, teams were skeptical.  They knew he was a rare talent, perhaps the fastest player in college basketball. 

But they were concerned about his height because, at only 5’11” (on a good day) he would most likely be the shortest, starting point guard in the league.  They also felt his passing needed refinement.

Marshall presents the opposite questions to scouts.  He has great size and is college basketball’s most polished passer.  He knows where to put the basketball. 

But his speed, quickness and athleticism are all severely limited—barely NBA quality.  So a scout’s question is: Can he start?

Ultimately, Lawson went on to become a Denver Nuggets star.  Combined with his 2009 NCAA title, that gives him the edge over Marshall for the foreseeable future. 

But if the right team drafts him, who knows what Marshall can accomplish?