PHOENIX — While many members of the 2012 NBA Draft class were
getting the superstar treatment in Newark, mugging for photos,
styling designer suits and rubbing elbows with commissioner David
Stern, North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall was taking it
easy, taking in the
festivities with loved ones.
“I watched it right at home,” Marshall said of the draft on a
conference call with
the Phoenix media Thursday night after the Suns made him the
13th pick in the draft. “We ordered some chinese food. It was me,
my family, my agent and my two best friends.”
The low-key nature of Marshall’s evening sort of mirrors his play on
the court. He’s not flashy. He’s not the best athlete.
Instead he’s a heady player who was the best passer in this year’s
Marshall averaged nearly 10 assists per game at UNC in 2011-12,
blending solid, fundamental passes with highlight deliveries to his
Tar Heel teammates.
“I feel like there’s no pass I can’t complete,” he said. “Sometimes it
meant I was throwing the ball over the backboard or I’m throwing
the ball on a string to get it to one of my teammates. It could be a
great thing or a bad thing — I’m going to have to take charge of
that and make sure it’s the right play for the team.”
Marshall is a point guard, so at least right now, he’s the backup to
Steve Nash. But the veteran point guard could sign elsewhere when
the NBA free agency period begins Sunday, so there’s a chance that
he’ll be asked to replace a two-time MVP and one of the most
beloved players in Suns history.
“I know it’s not going to be easy,” Marshall said when asked about
the possibility of replacing Nash. “But I’m up for the challenge.
Adversity is something that I’m accustomed to and have had to deal
with so I’m going to take my lumps, but I’ll learn from them and
ultimately get better.”
Regardless of what his immediate role with the Suns is, Marshall is
excited to start his career in the Valley.
“I’m extremely blessed and fortunate,” he said. “I felt like I had the
most chemistry, the best visit and the best workout when I was in
Phoenix and I felt like I could be the best fit there. I’m excited to
just get out there and hopefully be a small part of the bigger
picture of getting Phoenix to turn it around and get back to their
Most critics of Marshall’s game cite his lack of a consistent outside
shot and marginal defense. The Virginia native knows those are
two areas where he needs to put in a lot of work as a pro.
“They are criticisms for a reason — I know I need to get better at
them,” he said. “I’m excited about it. Obviously now, there’s no
school to get in the way. This is my profession, this is my job and I
have no choice not to get better.”
Marshall will be in Phoenix Friday to be introduced by his new team.