Mar. 1, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Kendall Marshall (12) handles the ball against the Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague (0) in the second half at US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Hawks 92-87. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns Spotlight: Kendall Marshall - What’s His Potential?

The 21-year-old point guard was drafted 13th overall during the off-season during the summer of 2012 to come play in the valley of the sun.

Marshall, who is 6’4” and 195-pounds, played two seasons at the University of North Carolina, before coming to Phoenix, where he averaged about eight points and almost 10 assists and a steal per game in his final 2011-12 season.  Marshall fractured his wrist in the second game of the NCAA tournament that year against Creighton and had to sit out the rest of the dance, which was a cause of UNC getting bounced two games later by Kansas.

At the beginning of this season, Sebastian Telfair was the Suns back-up point guard to Goran Dragic. At the same time, Marshall was even sent to Phoenix’s D-league affiliate for nine games to get some playing time, but as the year progressed and the team kept getting worse changes were needed.

Telfair was traded away to the Toronto Raptors to carve out consistent playing time for Marshall. This would give him the confidence to make the correct decisions in the flow of the game, instead of being concerned about being yanked off the court and put on the bench, in favor of Telfair.

Now that Marshall has an established role on an NBA team what is his career potential?

There are a few current NBA players that have similarities to the rookie. DraftExpress.com says that Marshall’s best case is to have a career like Andre Miller with his worse case being Jose Calderon. When I saw that I thought, “what is the difference between those players? They’re practically the same player.”

The site actually has the players switched. Calderon (11.3 point, 7.3 assists, 19.37 PER) has averaged more points and assists with a better player efficiency rating than Miller (9.1 points, 5.8 assists, 15.57 PER) for their careers, even though Miller has been in the league almost twice as long as Calderon.

While Marshall isn’t anywhere near either one of them yet, because he is averaging 2.2 points, 1.8 assists and a PER of 5.35 in his first 26 games of his professional career, he could by the time he retires.

Marshall is also similar to Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio (8.5 points, 7.1 assists, 14,19 PER). The 22-year-old is the same height as Marshall and has been in the NBA one more year, but the two have similar playing styles. Both are known for their great passing ability, court vision, and leadership, but are also known for having huge flaws in their games.

Both Marshall and Rubio are notoriously bad at defense and shooting the ball. The defense is obvious and speaks for itself and they both have poor shooting percentages (.404 and .338 respectively for this season).

From what I have seen, I think Marshall can increase his shooting percentage and fix his shot, which has too low of a release, but his weakness will probably always be his defense. That didn’t stop Steve Nash from getting two MVPs did it?

Rubio’s defense could improve and isn’t as bad as Marshall’s, but he has been in the league for almost two years and keeps missing a lot of shots. He may just need to have a better shot selection, but that aspect of his game may never go away.

Where does Marshall stand in the NBA landscape? He is in the formative part of his career. Everybody: fans, other players, coaches and GMs all around the league are taking stock of his game. If he doesn’t start improving, he will find himself playing abroad or as a permanent fixture on the edge of a team’s bench, like a seldom-used appliance in the back of a cupboard, that has been forgotten about from the collective memory of the NBA.

However, if he improves in certain aspects of his game, he could be an integral part of the Suns francise in the years to come as they accumulate draft picks and maybe some free agents and make a run at the playoffs, or get paid to be a starter somewhere else.

Tags: Basketball Kendall Marshall NBA Phoenix Suns Sports

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