UNC’s Kendall Marshall Intrigues
The Best and Worst of Kendall Marshall
North Carolina Tar Heel Kendall Marshall is a difficult player to pass final judgment on. In many ways, the things he brings to the table are unique and extremely valuable as he moves up levels of the game. At the same time, his weaknesses are maddeningly infuriating, and they severely limit his potential as a pro. If he can explore his use of a variety of speeds, especially in the halfcourt, and if he can improve his use of angles defensively, his prospects improve considerably.
As a fullcourt transition point guard on the offensive end, Kendall Marshall compares favorably with Greg Anthony. He plays with enough intelligence that the game has slowed down for him, and is able to put pressure on the defense through precision passing. Playing upright, Marshall uses his 6’4 frame to see over the top of defense, and he controls the ball with longer arms and bigger hands than most. He is the most dangerous player in America in the first three steps after receiving an outlet pass.
At the NBA level, the transition game will come similarly to a player like him. He will still be able to put pressure on opposing defenses, and increasingly better NBA athletes will be able to finish at an even greater rate.
Where his value diminishes significantly, however, is in the halfcourt. There, the thing that allows him to perform so well (playing slower, standing upright), is actually his downfall. Marshall does not load his hips well, which prevents him from getting great burst off the dribble. As a result, he has to rely on his teammates’ athleticism and talent in ball screen situations instead of being a real threat himself. While that is good enough for Carolina to be successful most of the time, it simply won’t work in the NBA, where defenders can stretch him out and prevent the good passing angles he’s used to.
His failure to bend his knees sufficiently (in effect, to play lower) also hurts him in spot shooting situations (watch how many shots he takes end up short) and on the defensive end. One of his areas of concentration during the rest of this season should be taking proper angles defensively to adjust for his physical limitations.
As he continues to develop and mature, Marshall projects as a great change of pace guard with a long-term career as a role player. If he can address some of his deficiencies adequately, there is room for him to be a starting point guard in the right situation as a pro.
Quick Prep for the NBA Season
With a shortened training camp fast-approaching, NBA coaching staffs have to make quick decisions on the best way to prepare their teams for the season. In many cases, rosters will not be complete until just before the season starts, and in some, a team may not have enough bodies to do 5-on-5 work when training camp opens. With these realities in mind, coaches must adjust and overcome against circumstances beyond their control.
I would expect most staffs to spend the first few days of training camp assessing the fitness level of their players through full court and halfcourt shooting and defensive drills. Most of these drills will be concept oriented: teaching segments of the team’s offensive and defensive philosophy and approach instead of the whole at once. In other words, players should go through 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 games where they mimic movements that their team will eventually execute when they get into the season. That may include situations where they implement ball screen action, and how they defend it. This shortened preseason gives them a real opportunity to get into the nitty-gritty parts of how things will run during the season.
Since every team is facing the same obstacles, the coaches who are able to best take advantage of the situation and turn it to their advantage will have the upper hand in the early part of the season. As gameplay gets underway, teams should treat the first two weeks of the season as an extension of training camp, even if the games do mean something to their overall record. The goal is to be at your best at the end of the season, not at the beginning: and we will see great teams raise their level of performance throughout.
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Each week, HOOPSWORLD NBA analyst and coach Anthony Macri opens his notebook and offers an assortment of observations on games, players, and teams from throughout the league. Coach Macri serves as a player development consultant for the Pro Training Center and Coach David Thorpe, working with a variety of NBA players on their skills and game understanding. The Coach’s Notebook appears on HOOPSWORLD every Thursday.