As we move closer and closer to the Draft, we listen to various rumors from various sources spilling where players are being projected to go. One of the projections we hastily disagree with at this time is that of North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall. Although there is a widening gap between Marshall and top-ranked point guard Damian Lillard, that is more a testament to Lillard's play and athletic testing than anything Marshall could do to bolster his stock.
Sure, he isn't a great athlete (and did not participate in the NBA Combine's athletic testing portion), but this kid can play. Here's what we do know from watching him: Marshall is the second-tallest point guard and scouts love size in the backcourt; even if you want to consider Syracuse sixth man, Dion Waiters, in this classification, Marshall still measured in bigger at 6'4.25" in shoes, falling behind only Tony Wroten of Washington in the height category.
GM's love players who have one elite-level tool and Marshall has that in his passing. Second in the country in assists per game last season, the sophomore for North Carolina also posted a ridiculous 3.5 assist-to-turnover ratio. Starter or coming off the bench, point guards are expected to take care of the ball, run the offense, and be dynamic and create. Marshall certainly puts checks next to all of those. His play was even exemplified even further when he missed two NCAA Tournament games and his Tar Heels only averaged 70 points, shooting 41 percent from the field and 24 percent from 3-point range.
And in an attempt to batter those who say Marshall cannot score, he was on a team with several great scorers, mainly ball-dominators like Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller, and his role was plain and simple- to run the offense, breaking off only when his basketball IQ suggested. In his final six games played of the 2011-12 season, Marshall averaged 15 points per game (oh, yeah, and 10.3 assists) while hitting 9-of-18 (50 percent) from 3-point range!
Right now, his Draft projection is trending toward the mid-to-late-first round (right around that 17-22 range), when realistically, Marshall's size, abilities and skills showcase him more as a late-lottery talent.