The Raptors have been searching for their future point guard for a few years now with little success. Colangelo has acknowledged that while Calderon is indeed like a fine wine, he isn't immmortal and will need a replacement. First, they traded for Jerryd Bayless, who showed that he deserves to be in the NBA, but offered question marks as to his ability to run a team. Then, they had the opportunity to draft one of many point guards in last year's draft, but wisely selected Jonas Valanciunas instead. They dabbled with D-League players like Ben Uzoh, who I like, but they too were not the answer.
This year, the Raptors have an opportunity to draft a point guard once again. While the feeling is that they'll trade the pick, the workouts the Raptors have scheduled thus far have been guard and wing centric. They know where they're weak.
There are two point guards that stand out above the rest this year: Damian Lillard and Kendall Marshall. Both are quite different, but share fundamental similarities and weaknesses. And I hate to say it, Raptors fans...
...but this is like choosing between the second coming of Jose Calderon (Marshall) and Jerryd Bayless (Lillard).
Like Calderon, Marshall is an elite pass-first point guard with good size but poor length and athleticism. He's a decent shooter from three, but offers little else offensively. Marshall isn't a good defender, but he acknowledges this weakness and seems committed to improving. He's slow footed and would surely be exploited by elite NBA point guards like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. In Dwane Casey's defensive system, many of his shortcomings on the defensive end would be hidden by quick rotations, much like the case with Calderon.
Lillard on the other hand is extremely athletic, possesses phenomenal length at his position and is a scoring machine. Like Bayless, his game revolves around drawing fouls and hitting threes. He also struggles to run complex offensive sets, usually settling for the easy pass when he does see an open man (rarely). When a play breaks down, he almost always elects to shoot the ball rather than reset or run a quick pick and roll. Despite his physical attributes, Lillard is also not a very good defender. His problem, unlike Marshall, is awareness. Lillard is an elite defender in isolation, but struggles to help and see rotations.
Let's look at some statistics. First, their predraft measurements.
Kendall Marshall: 6'4.25", 198 pounds. 6'5.5" wingspan, 37" max vert.
Damian Lillard: 6'2.75", 189 pounds. 6'7.75" wingspan, 39.5" max vert.
Despite the height difference, Lillard blows Marshall out of the water here. He has terrific physical attributes for a point guard, comparable to players like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose. Marshall's measurements mirror players like Andre Miller and Jose Calderon. But don't put too much stock into measurements. That's what bad scouts do.
So again, the decision comes down to what you want from your point guard. Do you want an explosive scorer that will make you scratch your head from time to time? Then take Lillard. Do you want a pass-first point guard that will make you scream at your television, telling him to shoot? Then take Marshall.
Neither will be a star. That's a foregone conclusion. Most people look at Lillard's statistical dominance and forget that he played in one of the weakest conferences in the entire country. Where was he in the tournament, again? Oh, right. He wasn't. Marshall went deep with North Carolina, displaying poise and patience, and an often overlooked leadership. Harrison Barnes may have been the right arm of that team, but Kendall Marshall was surely the brain.
While I'm pretty sure that Lillard will be the more intriguing NBA player, I'm just as sure that Marshall will have the better overall career. He embodies the steady floor general that coaches want their point guards to be. Lillard should be good for plenty of highlights, but his erratic play will sit him on the bench more often that not.
Jerryd Bayless. George Hill. Jeff Teague. Ronnie Price.
Andre Miller. Jose Calderon. Mark Price. 35 year-old Jason Kidd.
Who do you take? Here are some videos to help you out. Thanks to DraftExpress.