Tuesday 18th June 2024,
The Hoop Doctors

Phoenix Suns Smart to Bench Kendall Marshall

The Phoenix Suns continue to make difficult decisions surrounding the team’s status at point guard.

If the team isn’t being goaded into trading Steve Nash, it’s throwing a pile of money Goran Dragic’s way. And now, Phoenix has opted to place Kendall Marshall, their rookie facilitator outside of the rotation.

According to Michael Schwartz of ValleyoftheSuns.com, the struggling neophyte does not figure into the Suns’ current 10-man dynamic:

Although the bench logged more minutes than might be expected, Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry treated Monday’s exhibition game against the Sacramento Kings as an opportunity to test out the rotation he plans to trot out when the games count.

Thereby we learned that Kendall Marshall — who did not play by coach’s decision for the second time in three games — is currently outside of the rotation, and that the team will likely utilize a 10-man rotation that could swell to 11 when P.J. Tucker replaces Wes Johnson for energy as he did in the first half.

While benching a rookie isn’t as tough as relegating a veteran to the sidelines, this was certainly a difficult call for head coach Alvin Gentry.

But it was the right one nonetheless.

Though Marshall was widely considered the best playmaker to come out of the 2012 NBA Draft, someone who could help ease the pain and fill the void left by Nash, he hasn’t proved he’s ready to shoulder significant responsibility at this level.

In four preseason appearances, Marshall is averaging just three points and 3.3 assists in over 20 minutes of action. He’s also shooting a paltry 33 percent from the field. Those numbers are far from impressive and extremely telling of how much of a project the neophyte actually is.

And while there will be those that believe he needs to see ample playing time to develop, the fact is the Suns cannot afford to give it to him right now.

Why? Because despite losing Nash, Phoenix is unsure of where it stands within the league’s power structure; the Suns could, in fact, currently be a playoff team as constructed.

Bear in mind that while they lost Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers, they added the likes of not only Dragic, but Michael Beasley and Luis Scola as well. Such additions don’t scream title contender, but they are core guys who can make an immediate impact, and perhaps even carry Phoenix to a postseason berth.

And that holds true now more than ever, as Eric Gordon of the New Orleans Hornets continues to nurse a sore right knee, as Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks deals with knee problems of his own and as Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves recovers from a broken hand. Factor in the demise of the Houston Rockets and the door is wide-open for the Suns to shock the basketball world.

And they cannot put Marshall’s development before the current opportunity at hand. Should Phoenix eventually fall out of the playoff picture and it wish to give its raw floor general some burn, then by all means it should. Or should he improve by leaps and bounds in practice, then giving him an opportunity to prove himself should be far from out of the question.

But now, when Marshall is struggling to grasp the team’s offense and how to succeed within it, the Suns cannot afford to have him in the rotation.

Not as long as a postseason berth is a potential reality.

Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.

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