A rumor spread on Twitter Wednesday that it was Back to the Future day. People had the right idea, but the wrong date on the calendar. Thursday, at least in Phoenix, was truly back to the future for your Suns. Before my fellow internet nerds correct me, yes, I realize the actual day that Marty McFly fast forwards to is October 26, 2015, but on June 28, 2012 the Suns took a page from the past while looking toward the future.
That’s because, on that night in New Jersey’s Prudential Center (something that isn’t usually the normal for the NBA Draft), they selected a 6-3 guard who was known for his passing with a mid-first-round draft pick, despite already having an all-time franchise point guard. It’s something they did in 1996, too.
If you remember (as if you could really forget), that was the year the Suns drafted the now famous Steve Nash. But on that night in 1996 he was just some kid who struggled on defense, who was “too selective with his shot” but who had “excellent vision.” Not unlike how many experts viewed Kendall Marshall on Thursday evening.
Now, don’t misconstrue what I’m trying to say, like it’s some premature CNN tweet. By no means is this a column proclaiming Marshall as the next Nash. That would be more foolish than trying to pick someone to root for in a Chris Brown-Drake fight. What I am saying is there are many similarities in their games as of draft night, the spot they were selected in and the situation the franchise was in at the time of their selection.
It’s not just me who sees Marshall as a blast from the past, either. Suns director of player personnel, John Treloar, also thinks so.
“He is a guy that is a great passer with great vision,” Treloar told Suns.com before the draft. “He’s kind of a throwback as a point guard. In Kendall’s case, he’s more of guy that’s a very good floor leader and makes his teammates better.”
Treloar also praised Marshall for having “great vision,” a “great mind for the game” and for being “like an assistant coach on the floor.”
Along with his on the court skills, Suns’ General Manager Lance Blanks praised Marshall’s off-the-court attitude, as well.
“He is special in every way. The way he handles himself, he’s a class act on and off the basketball court.”
If that wasn’t enough, in his conversation with the media after being selected by the Suns, Marshall exhibited another trait that fans love Nash for: His confidence in his ability to pass the ball, but humility at the same time.
“One of my greatest attributes, as well as one of my greatest weaknesses, is that there’s no pass I can’t complete,” he told the media on a conference call. “It can be a great thing or a bad thing and I’m just going to have to learn how to judge that and do the best thing for my team.”
While Marshall will have a long way to go – and more assists than FEMA can give out in a year – to ever be truly in the same conversation as Nash, he’s starting with a similar foundation as the Suns’ legend did in 1996.
Let’s just hope a beginning that is reminiscent of the past for Marshall leads to a future that does as well.