Phoenix Suns Prepare for Steve Nash's Departure with Kendall Marshall

Bradlee RossCorrespondent IIJune 28, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 11:  Kendall Marshall #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts in the first half 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 Phoenix Suns are in serious danger of losing Hall-of-Fame point guard Steve Nash to free agency. Picking Kendall Marshall at No. 13 overall is proof that they are preparing for such a result.

While it would be difficult for any rookie to step into Nash’s shoes and be even close to as successful, Marshall will be the one rookie point guard that could get the closest. Marshall was the best “pass-first” point guard in the draft and will thrive in the up-tempo offensive attack that Phoenix employs.

Steve Nash has been with the Suns for about a decade, but their recent lack of playoff berths appears to be finally pushing him toward leaving town.

He’s been a fantastic player in Phoenix, winning two MVP’s and leading the Suns to Western Conference brilliance. The departure of power forward Amar’e Stoudemire really hurt the team and started the lack of playoff success.

Kendall Marshall played for two years under Roy Williams in a North Carolina offensive system that is all about playing as fast as you possibly can. He passes best in transition, and Roy Williams even stated on national television that he was the best passer he’d ever had at UNC.

The stats certainly support that notion. Marshall averaged 6.2 assists per game as a freshman, which is pretty stellar in college. He topped that by averaging 9.8 as a sophomore, which is incredible. He also averaged an excellent 3.48 assists per turnover that season.

He also has great size for his position at 6’4” and 198 pounds. He’ll be bigger than most point guards that he faces, and that’ll be an advantage he’ll need to make up for his lack of lateral quickness. That height also helps him have even better vision than he naturally has already.

Marshall is not a great athlete. Where he truly excels is in knowing the game and running the offense, and that’s what Phoenix needs. The Suns need a pass-first point guard who can take Nash’s place, hitting guys for threes and playing the pick and roll with Marcin Gortat.

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 25:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns stands attended for the National Anthem before the NBA game against the San Antonio Spurs at US Airways Center on April 25, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Spurs defeated the Suns 110-106.  NOTE T
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Nash has been a great player, but by picking Marshall, the Suns are making a statement. That statement is that they are ready and willing to move on from the 38-year-old point guard if they have to.

Marshall is the only player in this draft that has the skill set to really be successful running the offense Alvin Gentry and his staff in Phoenix employ. He’s got great vision, is a great passer and is always looking to get shots for his teammates.

That’s what Phoenix needs to move on from Nash, and that’s exactly what they are getting.