Phoenix Suns: How Kendall Marshall Will Push Goran Dragic for Playing Time
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When the Phoenix Suns drafted point guard Kendall Marshall with the 13th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, they acquired a player that they could start from day one and ease the transition from the Steve Nash-era.
Dragic assumed the starting role for the Rockets last year when starter Kyle Lowry went down with an injury. Dragic thrived in Lowry's absence, averaging 18.0 points and 8.4 assists as a starter.
While Dragic will be the immediate starter, Marshall is a close No. 2 and will push Dragic for playing time next season.
Pure Point Guard
Marshall is of the Nash-breed of point guard. He never averaged more than 8.1 points a game while playing at North Carolina, but he was second in the nation in assist with 9.8 last season.
Nash only averaged 12.5 points last year, but was the most important part of the offense because of his passing ability. Marshall will play a similar role.
Luis Scola, Michael Beasley and Marcin Gortat are more than capable of scoring the ball, but the problem will be getting them good looks.
Dragic may be better suited as a 2-guard in the Suns offense, as he can score the ball at will and knock down threes. He and Marshall are the perfect compliments for each other, so it would be ideal for the Suns to have both guards on the floor.
Marshall will have to adjust to playing in the world's best basketball league before becoming a viable option, but when he does, he should average eight to nine assists per game. Marshall looks for the pass long before the shot.
High Basketball IQ
Dragic has a tendency to get himself in trouble on the court while handling the ball. Teams often trap the Slovenian guard, which leads to turnovers or bad shot attempts.
Even as a rookie, it can be argued that Marshall has a higher basketball IQ than Dragic.
He has the capability to drive and kick, which will be essential in getting the Suns' shooters the ball. Phoenix will be able to depend on Marshall as a ball-handler in crucial situations—something they may not feel they can do with Dragic.
Testing the Rookie
The benefits of being a first-round pick is that the team has invested in you, so they will give you more than an ample chance to prove yourself.
Marshall will get heavy playing time next year simply because the staff wants to see what the rookie point guard can provide. Sebastian Telfair and Dragic provide a safety net so that if Marshall does struggle mightily in his first NBA season, the Suns will have other options.
Most likely though, Marshall will perform at the lottery-pick level and shine in Alvin Gentry's rotation.
One more valuable point to remember. When Marshall showed up in Chapel Hill at the start of his college career, he was expected to back up Larry Drew II. His fearlessness on the floor and his ability to ignite the offense led to him obtaining the starting role—as a freshman.
Could we see a similar situation in Marshall's rookie year in the NBA? Only time will tell.
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