With the Suns still recuperating from the loss of Steve Nash, rookie guard Kendall Marshall certainly has a lot of pressure on him to rise up and eventually fill such a void.
After being selected as Phoenix's lottery pick this past summer, many wonder if the young gun will soon live up to all the hype.
With Gordan Dragic now employed to run the show for the Suns, and veteran Sebasian Telfair currently serving as his backup, there's certainly time for Marshall to develop and come into his own.
Marshall has thus far played sparingly for the Suns, so that (coupled with the presence of other floor generals) made it an easy decision to assign the rookie to the NBA D-League for a chance to log some minutes on the hardwood as he waits for his number to be called.
Phoenix shares an NBADL affiliate with various other NBA squads. Because of this, Marshall's minor league debut also coincided with those of Hawks' assignees John Jenkins and Mike Scott, who also were set to make their respective debuts with the Bakersfield Jam on Monday night.
Sitting on a cool 2-0 record heading into its contest with the Santa Cruz Warriors, the Jam ended up staying undefeated for a little while longer. Needless to say, the team's play was even further elevated by the three NBA prospects. The Jam ended up grinding out a victory, but it was Marshall who went on to steal the show.
Both teams were neck and neck over the course of the game, with the Jam even struggling to stay afloat throughout. Lucky for them, the Warriors lacked that true killer instinct and allowed Bakersfield to stay alive heading into the game's final quarter.
And that's when Marshall pounced and helped carry his team to victory. Early on, the young gun could be seen dishing and swishing as he found a nice steady rhythm while setting up Jenkins for easy shots.
The Suns' rookie did finish with 8 assists for the Jam, but it was his aggressive nature on offense that eventually secured the win. Marshall asserted himself inside, attacking the basket, as he scored 6 late quarter points during a run that otherwise sunk the Warriors.
Finishing with 21 points, such a game has to be a confidence builder for Marshall. Without much of a chance to strut his stuff in Phoenix right now, he is sure to continue turning heads if he keeps putting forth such an effort.
His demonstrated playmaking ability is something the Suns can't help but like. That type of orchestration will help Marshall fit right into Coach Alvin Gentry's system, but it'll likely be that same assertiveness that convinces Gentry the rookie will soon be deserving of minutes.
After pouring in 6 of 8 shots from the charity stripe, it's easy to see Marshall's ability to draw fouls made the Warriors vulnerable. Displaying that same penetration on a nightly basus will help the rookie keep opponents off guard. Teams will be left guessing when trying to contain Marshall, not knowing whether he'll dish it out or take it the hole instead.
The Suns can only hope Marshall continues to succeed in the D-League, and that such abilities will eventually translate to the NBA hardwood.