#13: Kendall Marshall
With the 13th pick in the 2012 draft, the Phoenix Suns selected two-year North Carolina product Kendall Marshall with team rebuilding heavy on their minds.
The Suns remain an NBA team in need. With several players set to become unrestricted free agents on Saturday, most concerning being talented veteran Steve Nash, the team faces an uncertain 2012-13 season. Other unrestricted free agents include forward Grant Hill and guards Michael Redd, Shannon Brown and Ronnie Price.
As expected, qualifying offers were extended to guard Aaron Brooks and center Robin Lopez earlier today.
The Suns have so many holes to fill, it was anyone’s guess which direction they were going with their 13th pick. Tops on their list are a perimeter scorer who can knock down shots and of course, a point guard for the future. They were also considering a small forward and even the right big. With so many needs, the best-player-available approach would have worked here.
Marshall, 6’4, is an NBA-ready true point guard and an excellent passer, especially at ahead-type passing. He is widely considered the second-best point guard available in this years’ draft, behind Weber State’s Damian Lillard. He averaged 8.1 points, 9.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 2.6 rebounds with a .467 field-goal percentage last season at UNC. Marshall, a lefty with a high basketball IQ, has solid ball-handling skills and terrific court vision but isn’t particularly athletic or explosive.
Marshall thrives in setting up his teammates; he was ranked second in the nation in assists last year. A fractured wrist ended his season early during the NCAA Tournament.
The pick was not a necessarily a surprise given their needs. Marshall, a great character guy, was brought in for workouts more than once. Should Nash elect to stay in Phoenix, the 20-year old will learn under one of the best ever to play the position. Perhaps Nash can fine-tune his free throw shooting, as Marshall averaged just .696 percentage at the charity stripe.
The Suns ended the 2011-12 season with a 33-33 record; they placed third in the Pacific Division and did not make the playoffs for second year in a row. Last years’ Defensive Rating was 24th, and Offensive Rating was 8th. They still have work ahead of them to address their defensive woes.
Marshall is a solid pick for Phoenix as they plan for better seasons to come.