Kendall Marshall was a vital piece to UNC’s success during his two seasons at Chapel Hill. Unfortunately for North Carolina, Marshall fractured his wrist during the team’s win over Creighton as they advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. The team eventually lost to Kansas in the Elite Eight, and the loss of Marshall’s playmaking abilities were greatly felt. Standing at 6 foot 4 inches, he is very tall for the point guard position. His height gives him the ability to see the floor better than many other PG prospects, and he has an incredible knack for creating opportunities for his teammates. Despite his prototypical size, Marshall has an average wingspan on 6’4” and average athleticism. A true pass-first PG, Marshall does not need to score in order to leave his mark on opposing defenses.
What Kendall lacks in athleticism, he makes up for with his superb court vision and high basketball IQ. Calling him unselfish is an understatement, as his gut instinct is always to find his teammates while putting high emphasis on executing his team’s offensive sets. Marshall demonstrates pinpoint accuracy on his passes and possesses the rare ability to consistently fit passes through tight windows and lanes. Kendall possesses impeccable timing on his passes and does a great job of anticipating his teammates movements when finding them. He does an excellent job of directing the defenses focus one way, while hitting open teammates where the defense least expects it. Marshall is a brilliant outlet passer and he shows off his long-range accuracy in transition, seamlessly hitting his teammates in stride. When running the floor in transition, Marshall does an impressive job of keeping the defense on their heels and uses the no-look pass to perfection. He has a rare gift for passing and improves the players around him.
Marshall demonstrates great handles and commands the defenses attention with the ball in his hands. He utilizes his large frame to fend off defenders from picking his pocket, and keeps the ball low and tight to his body. Although he lacks elite burst off of the dribble, Marshall uses his wits and patience to find holes in the defense and is able to navigate through defenses in the open court. Combined with his amazing court vision, Marshall is an assassin when penetrating into a defense due to his uncanny ability to attract double teams and find the open man. He lacks great lateral quickness and relies on his vision to find openings in the defense. When he is able to dribble past his opponent, he does an excellent job of using his body to block out his defender while maintaining his positioning, forcing his defender to foul him in order to get back around him.
Marshall’s biggest struggles come from his limited abilities as a scorer. Perhaps his greatest strength as a scorer is as a spot-up shooter, where his shot extends beyond the three-point line, however requiring time to get set when shooting. This is not a problem when he is getting open looks, but poses problems when he faces tighter defense. As his primary role is as a distributor, Marshall usually receives an extra step or two from his defender, but he has not demonstrated a consistent ability to score off of the dribble or by knocking down shots over his defender. He maintains fairly strong mechanics and a consistent release point while keeping his elbow in. He has the capacity to significantly improve his midrange game, but he will need to focus on learning how to get separation from his defender in order to give himself more of a cushion on his shots. Also, his shot trajectory tends to flatten with fatigue, and this is largely due to his relying too much on his upper body strength to power his shots. He gets very little knee bend when shooting and barely elevates off of the ground, even on his three-point attempts. Marshall needs to achieve a lower center of gravity when shooting and to focus on having his upper body guide his shots while his lower body provides the necessary range.
Unfortunately for Marshall, until his defenders are forced to respect his ability to knock down jump shots, they will continue to take away his ability to drive past them by sagging off of him on the perimeter. Off of the drive, he does a decent job of changing direction with the ball in his hands, but lacks the explosiveness to beat better defenders to the hoop. Despite having impressive size for a PG, Marshall lacks the physicality around the rim that you would expect out of someone of his physical stature. When attacking the rim, he does not absorb contact well and attempts to find ways around the contact, often settling for off balance looks that usually end with a block or a miss. Kendall needs to go into defenders and focus on drawing fouls and getting to the charity stripe. Also, he can be predictable as he clearly favors driving to his left side. In order to take the next step in his game, he will need to become as comfortable driving with his off hand as he does with his left. When Marshall is able to get to the free throw line, he converted a solid 70% of his attempts. However, as with his jump shot, he relies too much on upper body strength for his free throws, making him vulnerable to missing free throws late in games when fatigue settles in.
When considering his size, Marshall is a very marginal rebounder. He simply lacks the physical and aggressive nature that makes up good rebounding guards. Without the ball, he does not get himself into good positions to rebound missed shots and does not chase down lose balls. Not to say that he does not have a great motor, but he tends to hang around the perimeter and rarely crashes down low.
On the defensive end, Marshall does a good job of keeping himself between his opponent and the basket. He has the potential of being a very physical perimeter defender, but must be more assertive and utilize his strength more. Kendall knows his limitations as a player and is very smart on defense, properly anticipating his opponents moves and not biting a shot and ball fakes. Despite lacking superior athleticism and foot quickness, he has established himself as a tough perimeter defender, having the ability to match up against the 1 or 2. His high basketball IQ helps him in every capacity of the game and he projects to be an average to above average defender in the NBA.
Kendall Marshall has a very rare approach to the game and players of his type are not available in every draft. He has the special ability to make those around him better, and strives off of playing team basketball. While he is very limited as a scorer, his fantastic ability to pass will have teams wondering if he is this years Ricky Rubio.
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