2011 Scouting Report: Kendall Marshall
Our second scouting report of a Tar Heel (following Tyler Zeller) is point guard Kendall Marshall. Marshall grabbed the reins from Larry Drew last season and led UNC to the Elite 8. In 2011-12, Marshall looks to the lead the Tar Heels even further.
Marshall’s biggest strength is far and away his passing ability as evidenced by his 40.7% assist rate last year, seventh in the nation. This is a major asset for UNC as they can surround Marshall with strong offensive players and let him feed them the ball for scoring opportunities.
UNC plays at one of the fastest tempos in the country (71.7 possession per game, 16th in the nation) and Marshall is quite adept at triggering and leading the break. He can deliver a long-range pass to someone leaking out or find the open man on the break. Marshall is not great at finishing at the rim (as we will see), so he forces the defense to commit to him before finding the open teammate.
As noted above, Marshall does not look for his own shot in the half court offense. What he is great at is penetrating the lane, drawing the defense to him and feeding the open man for an easy layup. Watch the following clips as Marshall knifes through the lane, draws the help defense and dumps the ball to the open man.
This is hard to defend because the help defenders are instinctively step up to stop the ball and challenge a potential shot. However, I think defenses need to force him to take shots and take away his passing lanes this season to render him less effective. It will take disciple but it may be a way to make the UNC offense less efficient.
Marshall also skill to enter the ball into the post, even under pressure. UNC will run a big portion of its half court offense through the post and Marshall will be required to feed the post with precision. You can see in the video that even under pressure, he is able to navigate around his defender through the use of pivots and ball fakes to find the passing lane. Although the post man does not convert any of the highlighted opportunities, we want to focus more on Marshall’s proficiency in post entry passes.
Finally, Marshall makes some passes some guards can only dream of. His accuracy on some tough passes is incredible and he almost always seems to put it in the perfect place for his teammate to gather the ball and score.
On ball defense
While I do have some concerns about Marshall’s ability to defend point guards at the NBA level, I think Marshall will be able to defend the majority of point guards he faces this year. He is great at shuffling his feet to stay in front of defenders and staying in front of his man on dribble penetration. From there, he is able to sufficiently challenge the shot without fouling.
Marshall slides his feet and doesn’t allow his man to get by him very often.
While it is clear that Marshall’s biggest strength is his passing ability, it is just as clear his ability to score is his biggest weakness. It will be interesting to see how teams start game planning for this and if they start forcing him to take shots while taking away his passing lanes.
Let’s first look at Marshall’s outside shooting. Marshall shot 20-53 (37.7%) from distance last season which is not horrible, but it is not a result of pure shooting form to show that he can be a dangerous shooter over a large sample. The first two shots in the following video, both misses, show Marshall’s form and highlight his biggest flaw, which is the lack of lift he gets from his legs. Even in the third shot, a make, you can see how little lift Marshall gets on his jump shot.
Marshall barely gets off the floor and this causes many of his shots to come up short and hit the front rim. His shots never have a chance to go in, as they never get over the front of the rim. This also leaves him susceptible to a blocked shot, as he does not elevate over a defender. The rest of Marshall’s form is respectable but he needs to get more strength from his legs to lift his shot over the rim to be a successful outside shooter. Getting the ball above the rim will at least give his shots a chance to go in and could help get a few more made shots from beyond the arc. Until then, his shots will continue to fall short most of the time.
Finishing at the rim
As we saw above, Marshall is more comfortable driving and dishing to the open man than trying to create his own shot. In turn, Marshall struggles at finishing around the rim, as his 2 point field goal percentage was only 43.4% (which is useful although we cannot stratify the shots in the paint and the mid range jump shots).
Marshall tends to fly past the rim and flip an underhanded shot up instead of going at the defender chest. Again, the majority of his shots fall short of the rim and never have a chance to fall. He needs to become more physical around the rim and focus more on turning his attempts at the rim into better shot opportunities. He benefits from having great offensive rebounders cleaning up his misses but he needs to improve on his individual finishing around the rim.