Kendall Marshall's been traded 3 times and waived 4 times in 4 years. Hasn't stuck around for longer than 15 months. pic.twitter.com/HWGHPbXI1V— Matt Ellentuck (@mellentuck) August 26, 2016
When the Phoenix Suns first drafted 20-year old point guard Kendall Marshall out of North Carolina, the talk around town was that the Suns might have found their point guard of the future.
No, I’m not joking. Check out his introductory press conference.
credit: Valley of the Suns
Pre-draft, Marshall was lauded by scouting sites such as DraftExpress.com.
When looking at Marshall's game from an NBA perspective, his passing ability is clearly his greatest selling point, and it's hard to overstate how good of a passer he is and how great a feel he has for managing a game.
Within two weeks of drafting Marshall, the Suns traded 36 year old point god Steve Nash to the hated Los Angeles Lakers for what ultimately amounted to three years (so far) of Archie Goodwin and one-and-a-half years (so far) of Brandon Knight.
On the same day the Suns traded Nash, they re-signed erstwhile point guard of the future Goran Dragic, who they’d traded away less than 18 months ago along with a first round pick for two months of Aaron Brooks. Dragic was brought in to ease Marshall’s transition to the NBA.
Of course, the Suns almost didn’t even get Dragic. Do-do bird Lance Blanks really wanted to sign Ray Felton that week, but owner Robert Sarver reportedly had a rare epiphany and called Dragic personally from the Suns parking garage to seal the deal before Blanks could shake Felton’s hand.
Felton was coming off a disastrous overweight campaign with Portland where he posted a forgettable 11.4 points and 6.5 assists per game while combatting constant criticism for pot belly acquired during the NBA lockout.
But then again, Felton’s career averages before the binge-eating were just 13 points and 6.5 assists so it’s not like 2011-12 was a disastrous dip.
Yet the Suns GM wanted him anyway.
In a span of 18 months, your favorite NBA team almost went from Nash and Dragic to Felton and Marshall.
Let’s review the careers of Felton and Marshall since that summer.
Since 2012, Felton played two seasons with the Knicks where he returned to his lofty 13 points, 6.5 assist career averages in 34 minutes per game before dipping with Dallas the last two years down to 8 points and 3 assists as he has failed to age gracefully.
But Marshall’s career makes Felton’s look Hall of Fame worthy.
Marshall has played for some of the worst NBA teams in history, yet has not found a way to earn a permanent rotation spot. The 2012-13 Suns, 2013-14 Lakers, 2014-15 Bucks and 2015-16 Sixers. Career averages of 5 points and 5 assists per game, primarily boosted by 45 starts in LA followed by his release the next summer.
Marshall quickly wore out his welcome in Phoenix. Check out this article on Bright Side from March 2013 when Marshall got his first bit of regular playing time. Marshall foreshadowed his own future with this quote:
“To help the team, I have to be able to step outside my comfort zone."
Since then, Marshall has been bouncing around the league trying to find new ways to help new teams. His efforts have not gone well.
While we sit here and complain about the dearth of good, natural point guards in Phoenix since the decline of Steve Nash, we should appreciate the combination of luck and effort that brought the Suns the PGs they do have.
Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight have all posted about the same per-game averages over the past three seasons: 18 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds.
On top of those four, the Suns have drafted two more point guards in the last three seasons: Tyler Ennis and Tyer Ulis.
You may not love that the Suns are still searching for the next great point guard. And the Suns might very well draft yet another one next summer, as the top of the 2017 is predominantly loaded with a half-dozen top-tier PG prospects.
But at least we haven’t spent the last four years watching Ray Felton and Kendall Marshall man the point.