February 25, 2012; Charlottesville, VA USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Kendall Marshall (5) dribbles the ball against the Virginia Cavaliers at John Paul Jones Arena. The Tar Heels won 54-51. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
The ushering in of a new era has a familiar tone as the Suns drafted pass-first point guard Kendall Marshall out of North Carolina. Is he Steve Nash's replacement?
In the end the Phoenix Suns prove to be creates of habit. Even with a newer regime in place that has their basketball philosophies the same organizational philosophy was felt in their decision to draft Kendall Marshall.
Over the years one position has been consistently good and even borderline great for the team has been at the point.
The 2012 Draft proved the team did not want to move away from that. There was Kevin Johnson from 1987-1998 who passed the duties off to Jason Kidd from 1998-2001 then to the transitional leader in Stephon Marbury from 2002-2004, and then obviously to Steve Nash from 2004 to the present. For basically 24 years the team has had a leader that could run the offense for the most part in a selfless manner.
Enter Kendall Marshall.
The North Carolina Tar Heel standout is another point that plays the game with an old school flair and discipline. His goal is to set his teammates up, which is a far cry from what the position has become in the NBA. It is astounding what Marshall did in his 73 games at North Carolina. He totaled 523 points (7.2 per game) and 581 assists (8.0 per game) with a mere 193 turnovers (2.6 per game). Numbers like that are unheard of these days.
Marshall plays the game in an old school manner, which is what caught the Suns eyes. "He is a winner," stated Lance Blanks about Kendall Marshall. "One thing that rang true to me is a winner. He is a class act on and off the basketball court."
During his college career he had the patience to wait his turn and then broke it open once given the opportunity. Another great quality of Marshall is that he comes in humble and expecting a "learning curve" as he called it. "I know there are a lot of things I need to get better and I am man enough to recognize that it is going to take time," stated Marshall after being drafted.
He does not lack for confidence, like say Kidd or Nash when it comes to play making, "I think there is no pass I can't complete. Sometimes I was throwing it over the backboard to get it to one of my teammates. It can be a good thing and a bad thing."
Bringing in Marshall was not considered insurance to the Suns. They had him ranked as the eighth best player on their board and were very high on him no matter where they were drafting. After two workouts in Phoenix the team felt very comfortable, very confident in this being the right player to lead the team going forward.
Going forward Marshall is either learning from a legend or replacing one. A lot of pressure comes with that, but he is ready for that. "Either or. I feel he is one of the best to ever do it and someone I would like to learn from, "said Marshall. "At the end of the day I have no control over his decision. I know it is not going to be easy, but I am open to the challenge."
This move puts a stamp on the franchise giving them a point guard to groom for the future as the eventual replacement for Nash. Whether the All-Star free agent decides to stay or go this year, he is 38 either way going into next season.
Where the Suns were on the board the pick was destined to be Marshall. They may have wanted one of those perimeter scorers in Dion Waiters, Jeremy Lamb, and Austin Rivers, but all were taken before the Suns were on the clock. Time will tell if that was destiny or another hit to the Suns in terms of their draft history.
The team did not acquire another pick, another player, or any assets outside of Marshall in the 2012 NBA Draft. According to Blanks they were diligently working on trades all the way to the 60th with nothing materializing.
There are big holes in the Suns roster. This pick does not make the team a Playoff contender overnight, but adds a piece to the puzzle. That is important for a team that has just starting to build the puzzle and can now getting a better visual of the big picture with Marshall now on board.