Phoenix Suns NBA Draft Series: Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina

CHAPEL HILL, NC - DECEMBER 21: Kendall Marshall #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels smiles after a pass against the Texas Longhorns during their game at Dean Smith Center on December 21, 2011 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

With the NBA Draft fast approaching on June 28, we at Bright Side of the Sun want to cover all the bases regarding the possible players who the Suns could draft with the (likely) #13th pick.

Depending on the decisions the Suns make in free agency this season, nearly every position could be considered an area of need.

Being that this is considered the most talented draft in recent years, there will likely be several very good players left on the board when it's time for the Suns to make their selection--and they'll likely have a very tough decision to make as to which player they think will be the best fit for this organization.

So what better way to start off our NBA draft coverage than with the position at the very heart of the team?

Without further adieu, I give you my favorite point guard of the draft...Kendall Marshall

Kendall Marshall is a 6'4" point guard from the University of North Carolina who is known for his outstanding passing ability and his game management skills.

Marshall averaged 9.7 assists per game this season, which was second in the NCAA behind Scott Machado of Iona, who averaged 9.9. But Marshall played against much tougher competition than Machado--competing in the ACC at North Carolina, one of the best basketball schools in one of the toughest conferences in the nation.

However, though Marshall is almost unanimously regarded as the best passing point guard in the nation, there are also some concerns over his ability to score at the next level along with his mediocre athleticism.

So would Marshall be the right player for the Suns to take with the 13th pick in the draft? Read on after the jump as I attempt to help answer this question.

Here are the stats from Marshall's two seasons at UNC:

Basic Statistics

Year GP Min Pts FG FGA FG% 2Pt 2PtA 2P% 3Pt 3PtA 3P% FTM FTA FT% Off Def TOT Asts Stls TOs PFs
2010/11 37 24.6 6.2 2.1 4.9 41.8 1.5 3.5 43.4 0.5 1.4 37.7 1.6 2.3 69.0 0.2 1.9 2.1 6.2 1.1 2.5 1.4
2011/12 36 33.0 8.1 2.9 6.3 46.7 2.1 4.1 52.7 0.8 2.2 35.4 1.5 2.2 69.6 0.2 2.4 2.6 9.8 1.2 2.8 1.6

Efficiency Statistics

Player Info Shooting Ratios Passing Ratios Defensive Ratios
Year GP Min PTs/g FGA/g Pts/Play TS% eFG% FTA/FGA 3PA/FGA Ast/g Ast/FGA A/TO PPR STL/g PF/g
2010/11 37 24.6 6.2 4.9 0.73 0.52 0.47 0.46 0.29 6.2 1.26 2.50 6.56 1.1 1.4
2011/12 36 33.0 8.1 6.3 0.81 0.56 0.53 0.35 0.35 9.8 1.56 3.48 11.00 1.2 1.6

Usage Statistics

Player Info Complete Metrics Possession Info Possession Ratios
Year GP Min PER EFF EFF/40 WS/40 Pos/g Tm Pos/g % Tm Pos Pts/Pos FGA/Pos FTA/Pos Ast/Pos TO/Pos
2010/11 37 24.6 14.5 9.6 15.6 5.4 7.4 72.9 10.2 0.84 0.66 0.31 0.84 0.33
2011/12 36 33.0 17.1 15.1 18.2 7.2 8.8 72.9 12.1 0.92 0.71 0.25 1.10 0.32

Looking at these stats it's easy to see Marshall's biggest strengths and weaknesses. His passing is of course his greatest asset while his shooting and scoring seems to be only average at best. But there's much more to Marshall as a player than just that.

Marshall excels at passing in pick and roll plays as well as in transition, and his court vision and overall feel for the game are unmatched. Anyone who watched Marshall play in college will likely tell you that Marshall is also a great floor general who does a fantastic job of leading his team on the court and who makes a difference simply by being in the game.

This is why Marshall's impact on the game is sometimes hard to quantify in stats. For example, after Marshall's outstanding game against Creighton during the NCAA tournament in which he fractured his wrist, North Carolina was never the same. Although the Tarheels had other top prospects such as Harrison Barnes, John Henson, and Tyler Zeller, without Marshall they often looked lost and disorganized on the floor and were barely able to get by Ohio in the Sweet 16 before finally being eliminated by Kansas in the Elite Eight.

If Marshall would have stayed healthy, many analysts and avid NCAA basketball fans (such as myself) believed North Carolina would advance all the way through the tournament to meet Kentucky in the championship game. But without Marshall at the helm, North Carolina was simply a sum of various parts without the glue to hold them all together. Does that sound like someone else we know on the Suns?

So just how good is Kendall Marshall?

Well, according to DraftExpress.com, Marshall's 10.7 assists per 40 minutes adjusted stats this season aren't just the best of this draft class, but the best in at least the last decade.

The biggest questions about Marshall are about his average jump shot and his less than ideal athleticism. His underwhelming athleticism is also a concern on the defensive side of the ball as he has sometimes struggled to keep up with quicker guards. While both of these areas are legitimate concerns, Marshall has also shown the ability to score when necessary and also displayed an improved jump shot during the NCAA tournament, and his solid defensive fundamentals help him compensate for his lack of quickness as well.

In addition, Kendall's intelligence and craftiness in and around the paint help make up for his average athleticism. Again, does this sound familiar?

I believe that Marshall would be the perfect fit for the Suns, who are already used to his style of play from one of the best pass-first point guards of all time, Steve Nash. Who better to become the heir apparent to Steve's throne than a player who shows the same kind of potential?

I'm not saying Kendall Marshall will be the next Steve Nash...The odds of landing another player of Nash's caliber are extremely low as he is the type of player that only comes around once every couple decades, if that. But Kendall Marshall does have a good chance of becoming a very talented player in his own right, and his rare ability as a true point guard makes him a very attractive option for the Suns in this year's draft.


*All stats provided by DraftExpress.com

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