Aside from Big Ten geeks like me, you are excused for not knowing Roy Devyn Marble before draft night. Really before the Magic pulled off the Arron Afflalo trade and acquired the 56th pick and Evan Fournier from the Nuggets, the Magic had no second round pick and no reason to pay attention to the back end of the Draft.
Marble was the beneficiary of being the best player on a middling program — averaging 17.0 points per game on 42.0 percent shooting as a senior and 12.5 points on 41.5 percent shooting over his career.
The Hawkeyes made the NCAA Tournament last year (in the First Four) and the NIT his junior year when Marble was the key player on the team. Iowa also made the NIT his sophomore year. Marble had some moderate team success but was hardly on a national stage.
When it came time for the Draft, he received the dreaded “Jack of all trades, master of none” label when it came to the draft. That is usually not a good thing. NBA teams like seeing players who can excel at one area.
Marble’s time at Iowa though prepared him for what his role might be in the NBA. Versatility matters. Being able to play multiple positions matter. And Marble has the look of an NBA player in many ways, along with that versatility.
At Iowa he spent time at both guard positions out of necessity. He was the best player on his team after all. At Summer League, Marble had to do the same and even moved to the forward position at points. Managing it all was not easy. But it was one of the things Marble wanted to showcase.
For Summer League, Marble averaged 9.4 points per game and a surprising 6.2 rebounds per game. He had some very solid games including a 16-point, 7-for-12 shooting performance in the finale against Detroit, when Orlando was severely undermanned thanks to the Summer League in Vegas starting up.
Those rebound numbers were a clue that there might be more than meets the eye to Marble.
“I think a lot of people had questions about whether or not I could rebound,” Marble said after that last Summer League game. “In college, I always played the one or the two so I’m always getting back and not crashing the glass. Now I’m in a position where I’m playing the three. And today I was playing a lot of the four. I was able to get on the boards and show that I can bang. I know I need to get stronger, but I have some strength.”
Rookies are always trying to get stronger. They have a lot of work to do in NBA weight training programs. And Marble was even in on the joke of him playing power forward occasionally (don’t expect it).
The week in Orlando though really showed what Marble could do and affirmed the investment and risk the Magic took in taking him. Really, taking a senior at 56 in the draft is not a ton of risk. There just is very little “upside” for players at that stage of their careers in that stage of the draft. It seemed fairly certain the Magic would invite Marble and sign him coming out of that week with the way he played and meshed with the other young players on the roster.
Marble has the makeup of the kind of player the Magic want. And he has the ambition to keep doing and pushing for more.
“As I get stronger, I can see myself in certain positions where the coach will put me at the four, as I get stronger,” Marble said. “I have the height and the length to defend a four, I just don’t have the strength yet. Once that comes in this offseason and offseasons to come, I’m going to be a very versatile player. I think they know that. I think they are excited to be able to put me in different situations.”
Marble is having to play some different positions. His versatility will undoubtedly be an asset for him. Marble is listed at 6-foot-6, 192 pounds. Coming from the Big Ten, he knows how to defend even if it is a bit out of position. What was clear from watching him during Summer League is that he has the versatility to guard any kind of wing defender.
In fact, Marble admitted how surprised he was that he could transition some to the small forward spot thanks to his size. Marble could very well play either forward position and do so adeptly with his understanding of the game and his versatile skills.
“I’m going throughout the process and people keep telling me you’re real big, you’re real tall why are you not a three,” Marble said. “I have been playing the one or the two my whole life, I didn’t realize that at this level I could play the three and have some success. I didn’t think I was tall enough. That was one thing I learned, just the fact that I’m a lot bigger and longer matched up against different athletes.”
Marble is far from a lock of sticking in the NBA. His shooting is still a bit suspect. As well as Marble played at Summer League, he still ended up shooting 37.2 percent from the floor and 31.2 percent from beyond the arc. His senior year at Iowa, he shot 42.0 percent from the floor and 34.9 percent from beyond the arc with a 27.2 percent usage rate. You would suspect those averages might come up a bit with a lower usage rate. The scoring and creation burden will not be totally on him.
Marble will have to continue being open to trying new things and playing whatever role the coaches ask of him. At this point, that does not seem to be a problem.
Marble has given himself a chance though. That is all a second round pick can ask for.