Kendall Marshall: My Game Needs Work
You have to hand it to rookie point guard Kendall Marshall of the Phoenix Suns. When we asked him at the Las Vegas Summer League what specific areas of his game need work before the season starts, his answer was refreshingly honest, even surprising.
“Everything,” Marshall said. “Nothing is where it needs to be. Really, there’s not one thing that I feel like it’s where it needs to be. There’s a lot of things I need to get better at.”
“I need to get in the gym a lot,” he added. “I need to work on my body. Eighty-two games is a very long time, just to be able to be durable playing at this level. Obviously I want to become a consistent shooter and shoot with confidence so it can take pressure off of my teammates and so they’re not constantly getting double-teamed every time down the court.”
When the Suns selected Marshall with the 13th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Steve Nash was still a member of the team. A couple weeks later, Nash landed with the Los Angeles Lakers in a sign-and-trade deal. Following that twist, the Suns signed unrestricted free agent Goran Dragic, who will assume starting point guard duties.
That’s just the start of all the roster changes over this busy summer.
Phoenix signed forwards Luis Scola and Michael Beasley and re-signed Shannon Brown. They waived Josh Childress via the amnesty provision. Aaron Brooks (now with the Sacramento Kings) and Grant Hill (signed with the Los Angeles Clippers) departed. Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick were sent to the New Orleans Hornets in a three-team deal that allowed the Suns to acquire Wesley Johnson, the fourth pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
“I’m excited,” Marshall said. “It’s a totally different team than a month ago when they announced my name on draft night. But between Beasley, I grew up watching him play being from the same area, Scola (who’s) a very good player and Dragic has gotten a lot better over the years, I’m looking forward to playing with these players. These are guys that I’ve watched playing growing up and kind of admired their games, and now hopefully I can contribute with them to make our team better.”
With Dragic now leading the team amid the significant re-building process that’s officially underway, Marshall was asked if he envisioned the two meshing their games together on the floor.
“That’s completely up to the coach,” Marshall answered. “He (Dragic) does do a great job of slashing and getting to the basket and scoring. If he wants to put us on the court at the same time together, I’m sure we’ll find a way to make it work. If we’re playing one in and one out, we’re going to do whatever is best for our team.”
This positive attitude should serve him well as he enters onto the big stage, not quite knowing what to expect.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s been so much stuff going on. I’m still living out of a suitcase which is hard, but I’m happy to be part of the organization and looking forward to contributing and trying to get some wins under our belt.”
In four games at the Las Vegas Summer League, Marshall averaged 7.0 points, 6.5 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.5 rebounds in 33.0 minutes. The good news was the fact that Marshall’s assists were ranked highest during the summer league. The not-so-good news were his turnovers per game (3.2) and shooting percentages: .314 from the field (11-of-35) and .250 from beyond the arc (3-of-12).
The great news is that Marshall showed marked improvement in nearly every facet with each passing game.
“It’s a big learning curve,” Marshall said. “There’s a lot I need to learn about the game. There’s a lot I need to get better at, but this is good though. I’d rather it be now than during the season that I’m learning these things. Hopefully I can take the things I’m learning this week and get better so I’m prepared for the season and training camp.”
It’s not difficult to see why the Suns picked the former North Carolina product. Last season Marshall, 6’4, won the Bob Cousy Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top collegiate point guard. Marshall led the nation in assists (351) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.5) and averaged 8.1 points and 9.8 assists in 36 games.
Marshall should see court time this season backing up Dragic, perhaps splitting time with Sebastian Telfair as his game develops. The tools are there; now it’s up to him.