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NBA PM: Kendall Marshall Provides Real Value
Posted By Alex Raskin On June 8, 2012 @ 4:44 pm In All,Main Page,NBA,NBA Draft | No Comments
We always judge NBA draft classes by the wrong criteria.
Everyone keeps waiting for another 2003 when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony came off the board; and it’s through that lens that all subsequent draft classes are judged, fairly or not.
But instead of focusing on whether or not a particular draft has that “star” player or players is kind of irrelevant. What we should be focusing on is how many players can make an NBA team better, and if that’s the criteria, 2012 is shaping up to be a great class.
Unlike some “future stars” in recent years, like Michael Beasley or Hasheem Thabeet, this year’s class has more substance. They might not have the jaw-dropping talent of other drafts, but there’s a staggering amount of players who could walk onto an NBA floor next season and make an immediate impact.
One such player is North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall, who was largely overshadowed while playing with the Tar Heels. But instead of sticking around Chapel Hill for another season in order to step into the spotlight, Marshall understood that his game is reliant on a good supporting cast.
“I’d say that the main thing is that I feel like I’m at my best when I have my weapons around me,” he said at Friday’s NBA Draft combine in Chicago. “And obviously, with everybody leaving, and me playing as well as I did toward the end of the season, everybody’s window of opportunity isn’t as big as others’. A guy like Harrison Barnes, he’s going to be a top-five to 10 pick no matter when he leaves. That might not be the case with me and I thought this was the best opportunity for me to fulfill my dreams and continue to play at the next level.”
The risk Marshall is running is that NBA scouts will be unimpressed with his mere 8.1 ppg average in 2011-2012, but he says the good talent evaluators will be able to look beyond numbers at his skills and the skills of his teammates.
“I think the guys that know basketball understand how talented we are and that potential to contribute at the next level,” he said, adding, “I feel like guys that know basketball appreciate what we bring to the table.”
Marshall insists he wouldn’t have changed any of the experiences he had with the Tar Heels over his two season in Chapel Hill, but does admit that there’s a perception that he can’t shoot or score.
He made a respectable 35.4 percent of his 3-point attempts this past season and actually had an impressive 52.7 percent mark from inside the arc, but questions about his offensive versatility have persisted.
The impressive thing about Marshall, who stands 6-4 with a 6-5 wingspan, is that he doesn’t get defensive. In fact, he said scouts question his scoring ability “with good reason.”
“I only averaged eight points a game,” he said. “If you let me tell it, there’s a reason I didn’t shoot the ball. There’s other guys on my team that specialize in that area. I feel like when my number was called and when I needed to score, I did so. By the same token, I would have liked to shoot the ball more consistently throughout the year last year. That’s one of my goals in this next couple of weeks is to show I can be much more of a consistent shooter.”
The part of Marshall’s game that doesn’t need any explanation is his court awareness. Marshall averaged a remarkable 9.8 assists per game last season and had an impressive 3.48 assist-to-turnover ratio.
But as good as Marshall was with the ball, his modesty prevents him from harping on his perceived strong points.
“That’s obviously my strength and I think it appeals to some people,” he said. “I want to show I’m not going to be a liability in other areas either. I want to be able to be a good basketball player.”
Marshall is competing with Weber State’s Damian Lillard to be the first point guard selected in this year’s draft, but even if Lillard goes first, there will be plenty of opportunities for Marshall to find a good fit. The New Orleans Hornets (10th overall), Portland Trail Blazers (11th), Houston Rockets (14th and 16th), Dallas Mavericks (17th), Orlando Magic (19th) and Denver Nuggets (20th) would all be good fits for Marshall, either as a starter or as a backup.
Can J’Covan Brown Play Point Guard?
This happens every year.
Some 6-1 shooting guard who starred in college has to convince teams that he can play point guard because his size prevents him from doing anything else in the NBA.
This year that player is former Texas guard J’Covan Brown, and there’s no doubting his ability to score.
Brown scored 20.1 ppg for the Longhorns in 2011-2012, thanks to a healthy 15.7 shots per game average. He had no trouble shooting from deep (he averaged 2.6 3-pointers per game and made 36.9 percent of his attempts from range), but Brown also displayed an ability to penetrate, which allowed him to make 4.7 2-pointers per game as well.
“Yeah, people don’t think I can be a point guard and I can do that,” he told HOOPSWORLD. “I just haven’t had the chance to show people because I like to score the ball and coach (Rick Barnes) liked to see me score, so he put me in places where I can score, you know. But at the same time, if you look at my stats, you know, I was averaging like four assists a game and five assists a game, so I can pass the ball too.
“I can set guys up,” he continued. “That’s what I like to do. I like to see my teammates, you know, go out and have good games and make the game easier for them. And I can do that in a variety of ways. And if I have to score, I’m willing to do that too… Being at point guard, I have to come off the bench and be that point guard that can bring instant offense.”
To be fair, Brown peaked in his final season at Texas, averaging 3.8 apg, but longtime NBA point guard Sam Cassell posted the same average in his first season at Florida State. He would improve that figure to 4.9 apg the following year, but he too had a lot of the same questions surrounding his game as Brown. Fortunately, the two were able to meet at Chicago’s pre-draft camp, where Cassell was working as a coach.
“He was giving me pointers as in what to do in the drills and it was good to hear from him,” Brown said.
Cassell would go to the Houston Rockets with the 24th overall selection in the 1993 NBA Draft and went on to play 15 NBA seasons.
It’s difficult to say if Brown could have such a career in the NBA, but for that to happen, he has to finish this current draft process on a high note.
“It’s been a long process,” he said. “A lot of stuff you have to go through, you know, just to get your named called. Workouts have been going great, you know, they’re just about competing and that’s all you have to do.
“You know, I just go in there and try to give the same energy for all of them. I go in, I just work hard and whatever happens, happens.”
Barnes Meets With Bulls
Harrison Barnes met with the Chicago Bulls, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune, which means general manager Gar Forman might be considering trading up.
“It was good,” Barnes told Johnson. “Coach (Tom) Thibodeau was there and we just kind of talked about where their team was, where they saw themselves going and the personality traits I have are similar to what they want to keep on that team.”
Barnes obviously plays small forward, which is what Bulls All-Star Luol Deng plays. Deng has two years left on his contract.
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