Kendall Marshall a shooter? Never say never

Former UNC star embraces Bieber backpack, work ethic of NBA

rbonnell@charlotteobserver.comNovember 7, 2012 

His years at North Carolina showed Kendall Marshall is a problem-solver.

So when Phoenix Suns veterans demanded Marshall wear a Justin Bieber backpack as a rookie-hazing stunt, Marshall didn’t fight it. He embraced it.

He posted a picture of it on his Twitter account. He treasured it like a fashion statement. He turned the tables.

“It’s all part of the experience, part of the fun – ‘The rookie treatment,’ ” Marshall said Tuesday. “Only thing to do is put a smile on it and go about your day. If you can make fun of yourself, it will make it a lot less fun for other people to do it.”

Marshall was the 13th overall pick in June, but the Suns are bringing him along slowly. He’s playing behind Goran Dragic and Sebastian Telfair at the point. So when the Suns play the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday at Time Warner Cable Arena, it’s iffy whether he’ll play.

He’s totaled about eight minutes for the 1-3 Suns, and most of those came in garbage time of a loss in Miami Monday. The real work is off days such as Tuesday, when Marshall showed up for a voluntary session at the Bobcats’ practice gym, hoisting jump shots and playing 3-on-3.

Marshall knows people don’t respect his jump shot, based on his body of work as a Tar Heel. He’s not offended by that. He just needs to do something, because it’s a much bigger deal in the NBA.

A non-shooting point guard is an invitation to the other team to double-team someone else. Marshall says he won’t let that happen.

“When I get on the court, I want to make things easy on my teammates. I don’t want to be a liability,” Marshall said. “I need to be respectable (as a jump shooter), but my main thing is still getting the ball to who’s hot.”

Marshall contends he wasn’t a bad shooter at Chapel Hill, so much as a player who didn’t look to shoot a lot. But he understands that’s a difference without a distinction.

“It was easy for people to say I can’t shoot the ball,” Marshall said. “It’s the same thing at this level – the defense just has to know I’m willing to take that shot. If that’s so, it makes it easier on my teammates.”

To that end, Marshall puts in extra work pretty much daily with Lindsey Hunter, a former NBA guard now doing player-development with the Suns. Hunter works with Marshall on both his shot and the angles of pick-and-roll NBA offenses.

“He respects my work ethic, so we’re in the gym every day. No matter what the time, he comes,” Marshall said. “I know it will take time. I also know it will work out in the end.”

Bonnell: 704-358-5129

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