Kendall Marshall seems to be fitting in well as one of the many new faces on this year's Phoenix Suns. Despite distractions like Luis Scola flicking his ear or Jared Dudley patting his head as they walked past, Marshall was happy to tell BSotS and SBNation AZ reporters how he has improved since his professional debut in the NBA Summer League.
"Since Summer League, I'd say the main thing I improved on is just the feel for the game, understanding the flow of the game at the NBA level compared to the college level, as well as realizing that I have to be more aggressive," Marshall said.
Marshall hasn't seen anything yet. He's in the middle of a slow ramp up in both talent and speed of the game. College to NBA Summer League to NBA-level pickup games to training camp is one trajectory. Camp to preseason to regular season (and maybe playoffs) is quite another. But a rookie can't know this until they experience it.
Coming into the season, Marshall faces his fair share of competition for minutes. Instead of being overconfident or demanding, the former Tar Heel is relishing the opportunity to work with the two veteran point guards, Goran Dragic and Sebastian Telfair.
"It's been great for me, personally, to go against two vets of the league every day," remarked Marshall in reference to weeks of pick-up games on the Suns practice court. "They kind of set the bar for me."
Goran Dragic's turned ankle may have been a blessing in disguise for Marshall. He got a lot more minutes in camp with first- and second-teamers than he might have seen otherwise. Training camp culminates today with a camp-closing intrasquad scrimmage.
The transition for Marshall is certainly taking some time, as the rookie is learning to be more aggressive in regards to scoring. We know that the scouts rave about his elite court vision and his ability to find open teammates, but he was never relied upon to score on a team that contained several NBA-level scoring threats, arguably better scoring threats than the Suns possess.
"They (the coaching staff and his teammates) get mad at me now for not shooting the ball, so it's an adjustment," mentioned Marshall. "But if I want to be successful in the NBA and help this team, it's an adjustment I have to make."
While many writers and pundits are not sold on the new look Phoenix Suns yet, Marshall is maintaining confidence in the team.
"I'm motivated just to get better and being that it's my first year, I don't know what to expect," Marshall said. "On paper, I feel like we have a chance to be a pretty good team. I guess only time will tell.
Marshall's teammates definitely don't let him forget who he is, from making him wear a Justin Bieber backpack ("I'm gonna own it. I'll wear it so much they beg me to take it off.") to picking up Michael Beasley's shampoo and lotion at Bath and Body Works to getting them desserts and snacks on demand.