The Phoenix Suns got their guy in Kendall Marshall -- the guy they wanted all along from the start. At least that is what they made it sound like when they introduced him to the media on Friday. The point guard from North Carolina made a big impression on the coaching staff and front office of the Suns and they hope to build the future of the franchise with him as a part of it.
President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby explained the process by which they come to a decision. He noted the "hundreds and hundreds of games" they watch in person, the countless games on film, the guys that analyze players in analytics and the discussions. All of it lead to the crazy day of the NBA Draft and end with the day that Babby called one of his favorite days of the year -- teh day after when things calm down and he can introduce the newest member of the team to the public.
One thing the team looks at in each player is how they fit with the "five P's" of the team's philosophy -- preparation, poise, perseverance, pride and performance. How did Marshall fare with those? said Babby, "There was no player in the draft that epitomized those five P's more than Kendall Marshall."
Everyone spoke of his character, his intelligence and his style of play. It was almost a little worrisome that they seemed to speak so little of his on-court play, but the flip side, it simply could be a testament of how great a man he is. You get the sense that the latter is true.
"This is a young man that represents, as I said, everything that we want this franchise to be about and in many ways what it has been about," said Babby about Marshall. "And as we begin to move forward into the future, we can't think of a better young representative and joining him with Markieff (Morris) and the last two years will be getting us off on the right foot in the right direction as we move towards the future."
That quote is what gives you the sense that it is not just his character they like. They are not going to promote a kid as the face of the franchise if he has no game.
General manager Lance Blanks said that Marshall has an "it factor" and that "he is the perfect person for us at this time."
Coach Alvin Gentry echoed the praise of his young point guard. "I love the fact that he is such a super-inteligent player," he said.
"He's a coach's player," Gentry also said. "I love what he does with pushing the basketball...He's going to be a guy that can very much control the game. I love his size. 6-5 point guards usually do extremely well."
He doesn't come without some concerns. Experts wonder if he will be able to be enough of a threat to score in the NBA and there are questions about his defense, which Marshall knows and understands. Being described as "cerebral," Marshall said, referring to his defensive skills, "I feel like I can definitely get better," but also emphasized the effect of team schemes that make a difference.
Being drafted by the Suns is what he said he wanted all along, calling it the "best case scenario." "This is exactly where I wanted to be," he said.
He said all the right things, talking about how humbling it will be to hopefully work with players like Grant Hill and Steve Nash and how he will work hard.
What does he feel he will contribute to the Suns? "Things on the court," he said. He feels like he will "thrive" in the Suns' offensive system with his pass-first mentality.
"I feel I have a very unique game," he described to the press.
That is what the team is hoping. Ideally, it will be a complement to a returning Steve Nash, but if it is not, he does seem to be equipped to handle running a team and making his teammates better.
That, along with the character the team is in love with, should be able to win fans over in not too long.
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