Orlando Pinstriped Post turns its attention to the 2012 NBA Draft with a look at mid-tier draft prospects who might be available when the Orlando Magic select 19th overall. Previously in the series: Meyers Leonard, Terrence Jones, Arnett Moultrie, Moe Harkless, Doron Lamb, Tony Wroten, Jeffery Taylor, Andrew Nicholson, and Marquis Teague.
Kendall Marshall finished his North Carolina career as arguably the greatest passer in the college game. Over his two seasons at Chapel Hill, the Arlington, Virginia native averaged eight assists to just 2.3 turnovers in 28.8 minutes per game. In each of his two seasons, he led the Atlantic Coast Conference in assists per game, and in 2011/12 he finished second to only Scott Machado of Iona nationally. "It's hard to overstate how good of a passer he is," writes Joseph Treutlein of DraftExpress, "and how great a feel he has for managing a game."
Indeed, Marshall is a floor general in every sense of the term, and at 6-foot-4 he'll enjoy a significant size advantage over even NBA competition.
Though a brilliant passer with great potential at the NBA level, a few facets of Marshall's game need significant work. For one thing, he's mediocre-at-best when it comes to creating his own offense: "Marshall's 7.9 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted ranks second worst of all players projected to be drafted this season," Treutlein says, "and his 55% True Shooting Percentage is towards the bottom as well." Further, the infrequency with which Marshall looks for his own offense skews his turnover stats, making them look better than they really are.
Treutlein notes that Marshall's facility as a jump-shooter off the catch could make him an off-ball threat offensively, a positive sign.
Mike Schwartz, also of DraftExpress, spoke with Marshall and Tar Heels coach Roy Williams about the youngster's strengths and weaknesses, and the video breakdown is illuminating, as it highlights Marshall's exceptional tempo-pushing skill. Williams says he "can't imagine" a better point guard for a fast-breaking team than Marshall. But it also sheds light on his ability to run a half-court offense and exploit mismatches.
The video also calls to attention Marshall's offensive deficiencies, namely his struggles to turn the corner in pick-and-roll situations. That same lack of athleticism makes it difficult for him to check opposing point guards at the other end; he's simply not a great athlete.
Why he fits for Orlando:
The Magic's only point guard with a guaranteed contract for the 2012/13 season is the veteran Chris Duhon, arguably the league's most ineffectual backup for the last two seasons. Longtime starter Jameer Nelson may or may not return, depending on what he does with his player option. Orlando will certainly need depth at that position, and they could do far worse than to draft the best quote-unquote pure point guard in his class.
Why he's not a fit for Orlando:
It's hard to envision a scenario in which Marhsall wouldn't work out beautifully in Orlando, given his ability to play at all paces, so the coaching philosophy of whomever the Magic hire to replace Stan Van Gundy should not limit him. The real question is if Marshall will even be on the board when Orlando selects 19th overall. If he is, then selecting him is a no-brainer for the Magic's new General Manager.