This year's NBA Draft was huge for the Magic. Going into the night locked and loaded with a duo of lottery picks in one of the richest pools of talent in recent memory, fans were excited to see who Orlando would coming away with, knowing that the two guys could potentially be star NBA players.
But while that dialogue carried on, there was little talk about the other pick that Orlando had heading into the night: The second-rounder which the team had picked up in the Arron Afflalo deal. That selection ended up being used on a wing out of Iowa named Roy Devyn Marble, who many media members and fans -- myself included -- didn't know a whole lot about.
But, if you've been following the Orlando Pro Summer League with us this week, then you've seen that Marble is one solid ballplayer. While he isn't the flashiest guy on the court at any given time, his shooting capability and willingness to defend multiple positions has certainly garnered attention in the Amway Center practice gym. So, naturally, we wanted to find out a little more about him.
Adam Jacobi, a managing editor over at SB Nation's Iowa Hawkeyes blog "Black Heart Gold Pants", kindly obliged to provide some insight on Marble for us and explain what we should expect out of the four-year college player during his tenure here in Orlando. Below is an edited transcript of our conversation.
One thing before I start: Do we call him Roy? Do we call him Devyn? I've been thinking about this since draft night!
Umm.. (laughs). Honestly, he usually went by the full "Roy Devyn Marble" at Iowa. I've heard him being called just "Devyn", but generally it's the full thing. He never goes by just "Roy Marble" because that's what his dad's name was.
So not a lot of people really know about Marble. Orlando originally didn't have a second round pick heading into the draft until the Afflalo/Denver deal, so we weren't really looking at guys who were projected to go in that range. Could you fill us in on what he brings to the table on both sides of the ball?
I'll start with defense because I think if he's going to make it in the NBA then that's going to be an easier way for him to differentiate himself from other prospects. He is -- from a disruption standpoint -- a very good defender. He picks off lazy passes pretty frequently. I think he was third in the Big 10 in steals per 40 minutes, he was fourth in the Big 10 in steals per game. While he's not the tenacious, physical, up-in-your-grill on-ball defender like, say, Aaron Craft is, he has excellent anticipation and is active whenever he's on the floor. That always helped him create opportunities and create fastbreaks. That's a pillar for him to build on as he works to earn a roster spot.
He was a four-year contributor and a three-year starter, and he was Iowa's primary offensive weapon in the years which he started. Last year was his first year without Matt Gatens -- a three-point shooter who took some of the offensive burden -- so the offense just went straight through Marble the entire time. He got used to that and he got pretty good at it even though he was the focal point of opposing defenses-- and the Big 10 has been the best defensive conference in the country for three or four years running when you look at the KenPom rankings. The Big 10 is the closest thing that you're going to get to big-time basketball in American amateur athletics.
Even though Marble is a shooting guard and not a point guard, the offense was run through him-- he touched the ball on every possession basically. He averaged 17 points per game his senior year, and a lot of that was on isolation plays when the shot clock was winding down because he was basically the only guy on the court who could create his own shot. He wasn't terribly efficient at that. We're looking at a 42 percent field goal mark and from long range I want to say he was at about 35 percent, so those are percentages that need to come up if he wants an NBA future. His free throw percentage also dipped last year to 71 percent, and you really don't want to see that from a shooting guard-- if he doesn't improve that then he'll probably find himself in the D-League or Iceland or something like that.
But in terms of taking shots, he's fearless. He has a really unorthodox and quick set of moves on the interior. Like, he'll have his back to the basket 12-to-15 feet away from the rim and you think he's just going to pass out of it, then he rises up, does a 180º in the air and is surprisingly good at making those shots out of nowhere. I've compared him in the past to Manu Ginobli -- I think that's a ceiling that he's not going to reach -- but in terms of being fearless with his shot, having pretty decent range, and having pluses in rebounding/passing/defense... he's capable on all those fronts. He doesn't have Manu's insane IQ, but that's definitely something that he needs to work on. In terms of just having that sort of game that can throw off a defender because he's so unorthodox, I think that's another pillar. I could see him becoming like Danny Green if he works on his shot and release like Green did in the D-League.
I don't think that Marble's that far off. I mean, he's far, but it's not unreasonable to say that he can be a good guy off the ball and on the wing who can drain a quick three if you leave him open and let him punish defenses that way. I don't think there's a scenario in which Marble commands a ton of attention on offense, but you shouldn't expect to get a guy like that in the second round.
He doesn't really have that much in the way of weaknesses. He is basically a replacement level NBA player in every facet of the game at this point.
We were actually pretty surprised (on Saturday against Philadelphia)... we were so excited to see Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton, but Marble actually had the best game out of the three rookies. He was shooting the ball well, solid on defense, and didn't have any real slip-ups. Would you label him as a consistent player or is he more of an up-and-down type of guy?
Well, he struggled at times against elite defenders in the Big 10 -- as players often do -- and when I say elite defenders I mean guys like Victor Oladipo, who you might be a little familiar with. Also a guy like Aaron Craft-- when those guys were up in his grill, then he struggled. But that, I think, was more of a function of his role as the primary scorer and being the focus of the other team's game plan.
I am not terribly worried about his consistency at the next level. As with all shooters, there are going to be hot games and there are going to be cold games. I mean, there were some games where the only reason he didn't drop 40 on an unsuspecting team was because (Iowa Head Coach) Fran McCaffery would take him out at halftime, and there were some games where he just wouldn't have that great of a game. And that's just going to happen. But the good thing is that if he has one bad game then it won't affect his next game-- he's got a short enough memory to be a good NBA player.
I'm looking at his Iowa numbers right now and it looks like he improved every season in most statistical categories. Is there reason to believe that his ceiling is much higher than the level he's playing at right now? And what do you think that he needs to do with his game to reach that ceiling?
I do think that he's got some room for improvement. I mean, we are talking about a four-year college player and not a 19 year-old "One and Done" like Andrew Wiggins, but he's young for his grade. I think that he turns 22 soon-- he was still growing when he was at Iowa, though. The coaches said that he grew between two or three inches between when he first enrolled and when he graduated, and even though they were inflating his height numbers when he first got here, he left at a legit 6'7". And if you look at him, he looks like he's built like an athletic teenager, you know what I mean? He doesn't have those grown man muscles yet. I think that physically he's got some development to do, and it'll be interesting to see what his game is like when he's at, let's say, 210 (pounds) rather than 192 on the scale. He could use that size-- it'd help him develop a more reliable mid-range jumper game, he'd be able to finish better in transition... he doesn't look like a finished product. He's never looked like a finished product. We sorta wanted him to look like one after four years in the Big 10, but like you said, the numbers bear out that he has been improving and there's still more improving to do.
The D-League could be the place for him to do that improving if he doesn't make the main roster. Honestly, talent-wise, in a normal draft, I think that he would have been a mid-to-upper second round pick but this was such an insane draft that he went a little later than expected. He has a really good future-- I'm not sure if we're going to see that in the '14-'15 season, but if Orlando's got any sort of patience with him -- and I'm talking about a year or so -- then I think that he can contribute for them as long as his shooting continues to improve and his defense is still there.
When you put it like that then I think he's in a great place. This team has been extremely patient with the rebuild and have shown that they're not rushing anything, so he'll have plenty of time to prove himself here. Even if he doesn't crack the opening night lineup, the team actually just gained a single affiliation with the D-League team up in Erie, so that's a place where he could work on his game too.
I'll also point out -- and I think that this is a major plus for him -- that he seems very coachable. He never, ever, ever so much as lost his temper on the court at Iowa and there were never rumors about him having bad discipline or composure. He was the sort of guy who you want college basketball players to be like. Just a picture perfect character kind of guy. As long as he keeps that up -- and there's no reason to believe that he won't -- then I think that his future is looking pretty good.