Updated Jul 9, 2013 - 6:01 pm
The Marshall Plan: Suns point guard in ‘prove it' mode
Dragic is fine. He's not going anywhere, not after leading the team in points, assists and steals all while playing the most minutes of anyone on the roster. Plus, Dragic was the first player mentioned by GM Ryan McDonough during his introductory press conference and has repeatedly been positively talked about by both McDonough and head coach Jeff Hornacek.
Marshall, selected with the 13th overall pick in 2012, may be another story.
He played sparingly in the first half of last season, but then saw action in 37 of the final 41 games, averaging 3.7 points and 3.6 assists in 17.7 minutes.
He showed an ability to pass the ball, posting back-to-back double-digit assist efforts when Dragic was told he was sitting out two games in late March, and then there was the 14-assist performance in the season finale at Denver, another game Dragic missed.
Marshall, though, struggled with his shot, shooting 37.1 percent; only Diante Garrett (32.7) was worse, and he played 29 fewer games.
"I wasn't as consistent as I wanted to be last year," said Marshall, who turns 22 next month.
The former North Carolina Tar Heel has spent much of the offseason in the gym. He's back there this week, practicing with the Suns' Summer League team, trying to prove he can be a contributor on a team that has added six new faces in the past two weeks.
"I've been in prove it mode since I got here, I think, with them bringing in Goran last year and them bringing in Eric (Bledsoe) this year," Marshall said Tuesday. "Two great guys -- I'm very excited to play with them, but at the same time, I want to prove that I can play with them, be on the court with them."
The Suns' acquisition of Bledsoe is expected to become official this week, while the Suns moved up a spot to draft Archie Goodwin of Kentucky with the 29th overall pick in last month's draft.
"I mean I was excited, but at the same time, as a competitor, you put your hard hat on and realize that it's a tough road ahead," answered Marshall when asked for his reaction on the aforementioned transactions. "They're great assets to our team. They're going to make us better, so I'm excited about that, but at the same time, like I said, I want to prove that I can play at this level."
Hornacek, who's only been on the job a short time, believes there is room for a player like Marshall.
"I like what he does in pick-and-roll situations when we're trying to push the ball," Hornacek said. "He's not maybe the type of guy that is going to fly it down the court and penetrate and put pressure on a defense that way, but he's a great passer in that when he gets into drag action, pick-and-rolls, he can hit those rollers and make those extra passes. Those guys can put the pressure on a defense.
"It doesn't matter who's going to be here, we can put guys at different positions. He'll have his opportunities."
Marshall said he feels much more confident, much more ready as he prepares for his second NBA season, which will include a five-game Las Vegas Summer League run beginning Saturday.
"I know what I'm walking into," he said. "I know what it takes. It's a total different mindset than I came with last year."
With three other point guards now on the roster—four if you count Garrett, Marshall, again, faces an uncertain future. The Suns have until the end of October to decide whether or not to pick up the third-year option on his rookie contract.
"At the end of the day you can only control what you do," he said. "And all I can control is how hard I work, so that's all I'm worried about."
Craig Grialou, Reporter
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