David Thorpe Says Kendall Marshall Is 'The Perfect Fit' For Portland
By caseyholdahl Posted in: 2012draft, draft2012
ESPN.com's David Thorpe, who has worked in player development for years and is executive director of the highly-regarded Pro Training Center in Florida, has been going through the lottery teams and picking out which player in the draft would best fill needs of said lottery team. Today he turns his attention to the Trail Blazers
. It's a great article that, if you has ESPN Insider, is well worth your time (he also says the Trail Blazers are "not your typical sad-sack lottery team" and calls Nicolas Batum a "potential all-star," thus proving that there are non-Trail Blazers fans who think he's got a higher ceiling than some would lead you to believe).
Thorpe breaks his picks for the Trail Blazers into two groups: kind of fits and perfect fits. Under the kind of, he lists Ohio State power forward Jared Sullinger
, North Carolina swingman Harrison Barnes
, Weber State point guard Damian Lillard
and North Carolina bigman John Henson
. He makes strong arguments for why any of those guys would look great in Portland next season. But when it comes to the perfect fit, Thorpe channels his inner, long-time suffering Trail Blazers fan who has been dying to get the ever-elusive "point guard of the future" by choosing North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall
as the prospect who best fits Portland's needs.
He's a better "value" pick with the Blazers' second choice, but in a
few years no one will care when he was selected. Marshall has the kind
of game that Batum needs to play at his best -- someone who can find
Batum sprinting or slashing so he does not need but a few dribbles to
score. Matthews and Aldridge, too, would benefit from a great passer,
and Marshall might be the best passing prospect in a decade.
He is the classic player whose sum is greater than his individual parts,
which is a talent unto itself. He's more than just a great assist man,
he's a willing ball mover. Portland was basically a bottom-third team in
assist rate this season, something unlikely to happen again with
Marshall on board. Matthews, Batum and Aldridge can offer him defensive
protection, one minute area of weakness for Marshall.
The front office has stated many times that point guard and center are the two areas of emphasis this offseason, and drafting Marshall would certainly go a long way toward filling one of those needs, though drafting players with broken wrists hasn't worked out so well in the past. Nevertheless, he's got the combination of skills at a position we need to overcome that superstition.
Marshall is the only point guard in this draft that has the feel of a sure-fire starter in the NBA. If the team could sign a free agent point guard, then let Marshall or Nolan Smith duke it out (no pun intended) for the understudy role, that point guard of the future equation might be solved.