Phoenix Suns select Kendall Marshall with 13th pick in 2012 draft


PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns have finally found their point guard of the future.

Although it’s unknown whether Steve Nash will return next season, the Suns drafted his eventual successor Thursday night by nabbing North Carolina guard Kendall Marshall with the 13th pick in the 2012 draft.

“We are ecstatic, as happy as we were last year,” said Suns general manager Lance Blanks. “Looking at our board and who was there at the 13th pick, that was the guy we were targeting all along. We are extremely, extremely excited about having Kendall Marshall here in Phoenix.”

The Suns have been searching for a legitimate backup point guard/eventual successor ever since Nash returned to the Valley eight years ago. With Nash an unrestricted free agent, it would not be too much of a stretch to think the Suns just found his immediate replacement along with the long-term solution at the position.

Marshall did not express any preference to learning a few years behind Two Time or running a likely lottery team from day one.

“Either or,” Marshall said. “I feel like he’s one of the best to ever do it, someone I would love to learn from. At the end of the day I have no control over that decision. If he’s not there and I’m kind of just thrown into the fire, there are still some great veterans on that team that I can learn from.

(If Nash leaves), “I know it’s not going to be easy, but I’m up for the challenge. Adversity is something that I’m accustomed to having to deal with. I may take my lumps, I’m going to learn from them and I’m also going to get better.”

Marshall is an elite floor general and a special passer, the kind of point guard that doubles as an assistant coach on the floor, according to his college coaching staff.

The former Tar Heel earned the Bob Cousy Award given to the nation’s best point guard. He also broke an ACC single-season record by averaging 9.8 assists per game and an NCAA record for assists by a sophomore along with leading the nation’s second-most potent offense.

“For me Kendall Marshall is a throwback kind of a point guard,” said Suns director of player personnel John Treloar. “The last few years you’ve got the athletic guys that have come in, but I think all of the Phoenix Suns fans have seen what Steve Nash has done over the years for us and has shown what a throwback point guard does, and he’s very similar.  He makes his teammates better.”

However, the reason some thought 13 was even a bit high for Marshall is due to limitations that include deficiencies in terms of shooting prowess, defense and athleticism. The Suns did not exactly draft an athlete in the mold of Derrick Rose or John Wall as the big knock on Marshall centers around how he will stay in front of speedsters like them.

“We did not get Kendall for his athleticism, and Kendall knows that,” Blanks said. “We got him for his brain, his ability to make people better, who he is off the court for our locker room. He is in perfect alignment with what we want to be about as people and as an organization. He is just a wonderful human being, he’ll make the guys around him better.

“Everything we did in terms of our process of analyzing him, there were converging lines and everything lined up from not only our analytics piece but our performance evaluation, our eyes and ears scouting, the background checks that we did, this young man is very special in every way.

“I’m not sure we can make him more athletic, but he’s all 10s everywhere else as a basketball player and person.”

And 1

  • Marshall watched the draft at his home with friends, family and his agent (they ordered Chinese). He said it was “a surreal moment for all of us” when his name was called. “I was kind of stunned. I just sat there, my eyes got really wide. My family was going crazy. It really took a minute for it to sink in for me just to realize I’m a part of one of the greatest fraternities ever, playing in the NBA.”
  • Marshall on his criticisms: “They are criticisms for a reason. I know I need to get better at them, and I’m excited. Obviously now there’s no school to get in the way. This is my profession, this is my job and I have no choice but to get better, so I’m not too worried about it.”

For an in-depth breakdown of the newest Sun, check out Mike Schmitz’s video/feature on Marshall.

Tags: Kendall Marshall

  • Bill-in-Tokyo

    Suns should buy a pick for Moultrie

  • JZ

    WTF…Lon Babby should take a long look at Lance Blanks and make sure he is not a double agent for the Cavs. This is the second draft Cleveland has taken the player Phoenix wanted. (Tristan Thompson 2011, Dion Waiters 2012). C’m on Phoenix. Another quality point guard with little offense to surround him with. REALLY. How many quality PG’s has Phoenix had that were unable to bring the trophy to Phoenix? The same formula has not worked for the last 2 decades. I was actually expecting Suns to draft Moultrie after working him out twice. For Moultrie and Perry Jones to fall to the Miami and OKC, respectively…I CALL BULL.

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    I really thought they might, but too late now.

  • Tony

    Well once again the Three Stooges strike. Not only do they draft another potential role player, they made no moves to acquire additional picks.

    Seriously, what did the Suns franchise and fans do to deserve such a horrible front office? These clowns have no clue how to rebuild this team. Since they’re not going to sign a max-worthy player anytime in the near future and since they don’t have any legitimate trade assets to use to trade for a stud, the only chance they have is through the draft. But you can’t rebuild with only 1 pick each season unless you can land a number 1 pick which of course the Suns didn’t!! Oh well, next season they will probably be so bad that they do get a number 1 pick in next season’s draft.
    Agh! This organization is just so infuriating.

    • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

      @Tony We both know the Suns didn’t exactly have many assets to trade to acquire another pick. Certainly can’t trade a future first!

  • Rishi

    JZ, your right actually no quality PG has brought a championship to the Suns. In Suns tradition we now have another good point guard for the future. I think its interesting that it was mentioned we have a tradition for winning when we haven’t won a championship, however that can be said for many other teams in the league as well. I really wish that they would buy another draft pick too but alas Sarver is too cheap to buy one outright. I mean what would it cost a million on top of the player’s salary? I guess a cost benefit analysis would have to reveal that they get a better ROI out of that draft pick rather than getting a scrub. Perhaps spending those same dollars in free agency would be better, however you don’t get the same bang for your buck, especially since even if you sign two or three decent players you might be lucky to get into the second round of the playoffs but Sarver and the Suns organization is okay with that. They are okay with being in the playoffs and just bowing out in the first or second round. The new luxury tax penalty is not going to help us Suns fans at all because you know that Sarver will now definitely never be over the salary cap. So whats the best way to stay under the luxury tax and continually get better? Duh the draft, and player development. But the Suns are notoriously bad at that, at least they are good at reviving older players careers with their training staff but those older players are more expensive than the salaries that rookies get out of the draft!!!

    Rishi, MBA

  • steve

    I’m happy with the pick. With my limited knowledge of college talent base, Marshall seems like as sure of a bet as any player that wasn’t drafter in the top 5. They could have possibly bumped themselves up a few spots by dumping JMZ, Gortat, or maybe Frye, but what good would that have really done. I’m honestly not sold on any players in this draft not named “Anthony Davis.” I think TomRob will be good, and I think MKG has the motor and athleticism it takes to be an impact player on the wing on the defensive end (not completely sold on his offense), but this draft wasn’t nearly as good, in my estimation, as people talked it up to be. Time will tell if these guys turn into stars, but I’m really not sure about any of them.

  • Scott

    The Suns made a good and obvious pick. If Nash goes, they need another floor general to run the team, and if Nash stays, he’s finally got an understudy who can run the team the way he does.

    Marshall is also the kind of player who makes his teammates better, and one of the best in his class at doing that.

    Now that the biggest hole on the Suns’ roster is finally filled (they’ve needed a proper backup PG for what … all but one year of the Steve Nash era?), the Suns need to acquire some top drawer talent.

    @steve -

    I mostly agree with you in your assessment of this draft class. But I do think this draft has a lot of size and potential. They won’t be as good as so many fans believe they’ll be, because the draft hype is normally hugely overblown. But I believe a lot of the first rounders in this draft will stick in the league.

  • Jason A.

    I’m basically crushed Houston took lamb, but I feel better after reading some of these comments. But if this pushes Nash out the door I’ll have a real hard time accepting Marshall.

  • GoSuns

    I hope we look into undrafted pf jamychal green, i enjoyed watching him the past four years at bama

  • Scott

    @Jason -

    Nash won’t leave because of Marshall. If anything, he’s probably glad to have him, because – potentially – it puts less pressure on Nash to play when injured.

  • rob

    I agree withe above comment about championships. If you look at the past 20 yrs.. most every ringholders teams… no suuper piont guard.. bigger shootimg guards like lebron, michael, ginobli, well maybe, .whoever.. THE piont is piont guard suns Dantoni basketball is fumn to watch in hs and college, but does not bring championships. I find it hilariously sad that they even acknowledged his non althleticism and defense..uh dantoni copy cat.. what is it with piont guards? In the NBA superstar shooting guards that have athleticism and defense win, not the other wY. Sarver and the stooges are just dragging this out longer. Luve nash he will never win a ring….anywhere. not his fault.short skinny.. not a superstar bulkier shooting defensive guardpz? Gortat? piont guards? no offense to navsh love him

  • Rishi

    I agree with everyone that this is a good pick though and I am happy with it. I do also agree that we didn’t really have that many assets to get a draft pick, but if Houston was able to get a draft pick with Chase Budinger (of course they also gave a number 14 pick away) presumably we could have also traded away Gortat for a top 10 pick but then again if you give away your #13 pick and a sure bet of a center in Gortat (compared to unproven NBA talent in the draft) I think now its time to overspend on an offer to restricted free agent Eric Gordon instead of overspending on Ray Allen. Offer a boatload of money to a SG like Rob mentioned above (although I don’t know if eric gordon is a bigger shooting guard like Rob mentioned, but he does get 20ppg) or wait until the next year to spend that money on a SG. Better yet try to get former UofA alum Andre Igudola over here by trading channing frye and amnesty JChill and heck even bring an old Elton Brand i’m sure he is still putting better numbers up than any PF we have right now. If Nash stays which I think he will considering he wants to stay with 3 teams (phx being one of them which he is most used to and has a great medical staff) then the team can be pretty good. We just need to stop selling those 2nd round draft picks which the Suns think are so worthless but they really aren’t especially in a deep draft. Maybe Markieff will turn it up a notch or we can find a PF later via free agency or a trade. It seems like some teams are easily able to make trades and get draft picks whereas the Suns are never able to figure that out or are too afraid of the risk

  • Scott

    @rob -

    As for floor general type point guards being no help in getting a team to the championship level …

    Dallas won a championship just last year, guided by floor general Jason Kidd. Kidd also contended for a championship a few years ago, with the Nets, but was solidly shut down by the Spurs.

    The Lakers won 5 championships with PG Magic Johnson.

    Utah contended for a championship in the Stockton-Malone days, only to get beat out by the Bulls.

    Kidd, Johnson, and Stockton were all floor general PGs.

    IIRC, the first Spurs title came with Avery “The Little General” Johnson at PG.

    If your point is that championships have rarely been won in the last 20 years by a team with a star PG, I’d just point out that championships are won by combinations of rare talents, and sometimes that talent comes as a big man, a wing, or a guard. But it’s the talents that bring the win, not the position.

    The Suns need a floor general PG to get the ball moving with the team they currently have. Beyond that, if they want to get to the championship level, they need more rare talents.

  • bk

    This management is hopeless. Other teams use cash to bought 2nd round pick and it didn’t.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    First of all great pick. I said way back on the first draft-related topic that if Lillard or Marshall are there at 13 then you Must take them. The Suns did that, and I thank them for it.
    Marshall will be perfect for what Gentry wants. I don’t care if he can’t shoot it like Nash. PHX will surround him with shooting.

    Also, with Marshall in a Suns uniform, even when Nash leaves the team will remain an attractive destination because of an assist-phenom running the point.

    The pick also saves PHX a bit of cash for the next few years as there is no need to overpay a Dragic or a Sessions or a D Will. That money can be kept free, hidden away in 1-year deals and expiring contracts as the front office keeps it available for future free-agent classes.

    For those who are angry the Suns couldn’t add a pick or two, stop it. Two things to consider.
    1) PHX had nothing to offer. Seriously. Chase Budinger is not a scrub, the Wolves needed shooting, (23% FG 27% 3P) and they got it. If Frye were healthy, maybe. He wasn’t.
    2) This draft class is really 2 years deep and a lot of good talent went undrafted. PHX can bring in quality players for summer league and try them out. Its fine.

    On top of that, July 1 is coming and there will be a lot of players moving around. Not saying PHX will sign everyone, but they’ll have the money to bring in players who fit.

    Also if Nash is part of a sign and trade, that can’t be done before the FA period. Hold tight.

    And all this talk about not needing a top PG is stupid. Parker is great. Rondo is great. Kidd was great. Billups was very good.
    Those other teams who won one ran the triangle and had the greatest player ever for six and the greatest center since Dream for a few more. Don’t need a great PG for the triangle.

    The Bulls died without theirs and NY floats in NBA purgatory without one.

  • Tony

    @Michael,

    unless I’m mistaken about the rules, couldn’t the Suns have purchased a draft pick straight out with just cash? Assuming this to be accurate, why didn’t they?

    This kid Marshall might become a solid player someday but what kind of impact will he likely have playing with a bunch of 2nd rate role players who have no ability to create their own offense? To assume he’s just going to come in and be even a tenth of the floor general and leader Nash is borders on delusional. Furthermore, playing with such 2nd rate players will only serve to hurt Marshall’s game because he will have to do so much with so little and without any experience whatsoever. It sort of reminds me of when the Chief Stooge Sarver brought in those other role players to replace Amare and Dragic was forced to run point with a 2nd unit full of scrubs and without any chemistry. The same is likely to happen with Marshall.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    Meant 23rd in FG% and 27th in 3P% .. Love blackberry auto correct.

  • PennyAnd1

    I have to disagree to all the anti-Marshalls. I’m excited to know we got Marshall. Marshall is a floor genius and believe me, it’s hard to find a PG like this nowadays. He will become an elite just like KJ, Jason Kidd & Steve Nash, just because he has the mentality for it plus the brains.

    Now the Suns need to work on getting Eric Gordon here in Phoenix with all their might.

    In the end I want these line-up to occur:

    PG: Steve Nash, Marshall, Telfair
    SG: Ray Allen, Eric Gordon, Michael Redd
    SF: Dudley, ?, Childress
    PF: Frye, Morris, and a superstar (Josh Smith or Kevin Garnett will do)
    C: Gortat & Lopez

    Dude this would be a dream come true.

  • Anjoe

    Kendall Marshall is a good value pick at 13. I’m a huge Suns fan but ever since Colangelo sold the team, I haven’t followed them very closely. I can’t help but notice what has happened to the Suns roster since ’06. Nash, JJ, Matrix, Stoudemire to what we currently have now. And one Horry hip-check away from competing for a title. I’m kind of surprised we kept this draft pick considering all the ones we have given away the past few years. Anyways, hopefully we start making better decisions beginning at the top and give Marshall some talent to work with!

  • Elviro (Italy)

    hope you do well as Markieff Morris ……..

  • KeZ

    How can we give him(Marshall) talent to work with when we doesn´t have any talent to give up? I mean the front office couldn´t give Nash any help after the “Amaré era” so why would it be any difference now? Sure we can sign some OK free agents but that will not make a huge change.

  • Brandon

    Marshall was a good pick for 2 reason:

    1. If Steve leaves, which i don’t blame him if he chooses too. Marshall has potential and is the best passer in the draft. There will be growing pains but he has great upside.

    2: If he stays, what better PG to learn behind than Nash?

    Look we are not going to content for a title unless there are some MAJOR moves and we catch lightning in a bottle. Its time to focus on rebuilding. I see the biggest need is a true PF AND wing scorer. Frye is simply not a PF, great role player but not strong enough and not a great post game. Someone like Josh Smith would add toughness and he would thrive off Nash. Also Gerald Wallace would be great. Match that with Eric Gordon and thats a SOLID foundation. I know money would be an issue but its a start.

    Nash/Marshall
    Gordon/Redd/Brown
    Gortat/Lopez ?
    Smith/Fry
    Dudley/(need to pick up someone here. Hill won’t be around forever. Morris.

  • steve

    “This kid Marshall might become a solid player someday but what kind of impact will he likely have playing with a bunch of 2nd rate role players who have no ability to create their own offense?”

    To be fair to Marshall, if he’s half of the floor general every talking head says he is, he won’t need guys who can create their own offense. A good pass-first PG doesn’t need creators. He needs guys who can move to the right spots at the right time. That doesn’t require the ability to create from the rest of the roster. It only requires bball IQ, of which I think the Suns have a decent amount.

    You’re right to say that he’s not going to be Nash right out of the gate. I’m sure no one is expecting that. However, I do think he can have a significant impact right out of the gate, with or without Nash in a Suns uni. I researched him a little bit, just so I could be a little more knowledgeable when I throw in some input, and it seems to me that he’s got a few things that need SIGNIFICANT work for him to become a star in the NBA.

    1. He turns the ball over at an alarming rate. I know TOs are more common in college than the NBA, but his TO rate in ’11-’12 was 27.8%, and it was slightly worse the year before.
    2. A third of the shots he takes are from long range, and he’s not all that great with the 3-ball in the first place. He shot 35% from the college stripe. That’s going to take a hit when he gets to the big leagues. If he’s going to be effective in the NBA, he’s going to need to improve his shooting and his ability to get to the rim. If the Suns are going to continue to keep the PnR their bread and butter, the PG needs to be a threat, or there’s just no point in running it.
    3. His usage rate is alarmingly low. I realize in college there is a 35 second shot clock, and he had a couple other offensive studs to dish to, but a 13.9% usage rate isn’t going to fly for a PG in the PHX system. This goes back to point #2, the PG needs to be a threat.

    He’s got a long way to go. That’s for sure. Let’s just hope he’s the type of player who has the drive to get there.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    My head hurts reading some of these posts.

    First of all, in regards to Marshall suffering because of a low talent level, no matter who was picked, it was going to be the same type of situation. That’s what happens when you rebuild. So if we would ‘ve taken a wing, and Nash leaves, then there is nobody to pass him the ball except AARON BROOKS who only passes the peas, and only because he doesn’t like them.

    I’m not worried about him turning the ball over in Phoenix because the offense is tailor made for him. As long as his handle is good he’ll be fine there. He’ll be able to navigate through screens and find cutters easily. He has that sort of vision.

    His shooting will come because his usage on the offensive end will skyrocket. He’s not a TERRIBLE shooter by any means. Just uneven mainly because he had so many studs around him at UNC.

    You know, as long as he doesn’t catch the amnesty axe I’m most happy for J Chil. Marshall will need a horse who can run and as it stands right now, the 3 spot is empty.

    Also, can we please please PLEASE Get off of Gordon? FORGET IT.

    NOH WANTS him there. They’re going to match any offer that isn’t absolutely stupid and absurd. The Suns will not offer him crazy money. He isn’t going to be in Phoenix. Stop bringing him up.

    Wallace is going to have teams after him. He’s still a bit of a beast and would be very good on a good team.

    What i AM afraid of, however, is the Wolves not offering anything to Beasley and he becomes a free agent. I’m afraid of this because I think PHX would try to get him, and that makes babies in Arizona cry.

  • Scott

    @Rich -

    I doubt the Suns would go after Beasley now, when they had so many opportunities to get him cheap before.

  • Shawn

    I think it was a smart pick by the Suns, but also a very safe one. Even if Nash returns, he’s only got 2 maybe 3 years left. If he does return i think it will be huge towards the development of Marshall.
    The only real thing i’m wondering about is whats gonna happen with Aaron Brooks? If it came down to it, looking in the now and down the road for the future, i would rather have Brooks as my PG over Marshall. Brooks is a proven scorer and a good passer. But If Nash re-signs with the suns and with the drafting of Marshall, its hard to see Brooks returning.