Kendall Marshall, No. 11 (Mock)
Portland goes with the play-making guard to fill void in backcourt.
by Brendan Bowers / @BowersCLE
After going big with Andre Drummond at pick No. 6, the Portland Trail Blazers shift their attention to the backcourt. With the departure of Raymond Felton, the Blazers have a void at point guard. Nolan Smith was last season’s first-round selection, but he didn’t crack the rotation. He isn’t expected to next year either.
The Trail Blazers also need to add shooting-guard depth. Wesley Matthews may be more valuable long-term in a sixth man role, but he’s all the depth they currently employ at that position. He’s one of the few quality young players on Portland’s roster right now too, alongside Nicolas Batum and the All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge.
Which is why even though a guard is a specific need, Portland could go with the player they have ranked highest on their board with the 11th overall pick. Regardless of position. Neil Olshey needs to stockpile as many young pieces as he can out in Rip City right now, and he will have an opportunity to do that with this selection.
If Damian Lillard wase available at No. 11 the Trail Blazers would take him. Same goes for Jeremy Lamb. Those two guys just came off at 8 and 10 respectively though, forcing Portland to go another direction. Perry Jones III is an option that will give the Blazers brain-trust reason for pause. He’ll be considered here for sure, and could be the best overall talent available at this spot.
Portland may choose to address their point guard need through free agency. If they do, then maybe they go PJIII at No. 11. Or maybe they choose not to invest in the risks associated with Jones after taking similar risks with Drummond at 6. The safer play, with a solid guard who addresses a need, may be the better one for the Blazers with this pick.
Which is how I think Portland inevitably goes with the 11th overall selection in this year’s Draft.
With the 11th pick of the SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers select…
Kendall Marshall from North Carolina.
Kendall Marshall may not be a prolific scorer in the NBA, but he does project to be an above-average facilitator. His game, while maybe not flashy, will translate to the next level. His vision is special, he has NBA size, and he knows how to make others around him better. Just like he did in his two seasons for Roy Williams at North Carolina.
Through 36 NCAA games last year, Marshall dished out 9.8 assists per night. He’s a point guard who elevates the play of his teammates, and we can look no further than Harrison Barnes as an example of that. Barnes played his best stretch of basketball when Kendall Marshall was in the backcourt with him, and Marshall has the ability to make NBA 2-guards better as well.
After averaging 6.2 assists per game as a freshman, Marshall finished his two-year run at North Carolina averaging 8 dimes over a combined total of 73 games. He may not be the most explosive player off the dribble in this year’s Draft, but his size, at nearly 6-5, should help make up for that when matched-up against other point guards. His court awareness and basketball IQ should do the rest.
He does not project to be a guy who scores more than 10 or 11 points per game in the NBA, but Marshall doesn’t have to do that in order to be effective. If he can score enough to keep his defender honest, his role as a facilitator will add value to a team like Portland. Playing alongside LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and possibly Andre Drummond, there should be scoring options all over the court. Marshall could be just the quarterback to find those guys where they each need it in order to be most effective.
If no moves are made in free agency, Kendall Marshall could start on opening night for the Blazers. If Portland goes out and gets a veteran PG, he can step into the back-up role which is also open. Either way, Kendall Marshall should have a place in the Portland Trail Blazers’ rotation next season.
He fills a need, will be a solid pro, and Rip City could do much worse than the PG from North Carolina at No. 11 overall.
|2012 SLAMonline Mock Draft|