Lakers’ fans were buzzing after Kendall Marshall’s 20 point, 15 assists effort Friday night against the Utah Jazz. With timely, precision passing, Marshall carved up the Jazz defense and helped lead the Lakers to a 110-99 victory to snap a season long 6 game losing streak.
Marshall was most impressive in setting up teammates for easy scoring opportunities which contributed to the Lakers scoring 110 points and shooting 51.9 percent from the field. The main beneficiary of Marshall’s adept passing was Pau Gasol who scored 23 points on 10 for 17 from the field.
The production from Marshall has caught the Lakers’ fan base by surprise, albeit, a very pleasant one. Nothing was expected from a player who was not on the team’s roster at the beginning of the year and picked up from the D-League only after all 3 of their point guards went down with injury.
Since Friday’s performance however, the hyperboles are being thrown around by fans: the Lakers next great star, the Lakers point guard of the future, the Lakers have found a diamond in the rough, to name a few.
Exuberance and optimism following a season filled with despair and facing a gloomy future for the Lakers franchise is understandable from a fanbase, but could it be more than just misguided hope? Could this in fact be a star in the making and we just witnessed the turning point in a prospect’s career this past Friday? Hard to say at this point.
The scouting reports coming out of college were that Kendall Marshall was a pure point guard with his amazing court vision, great play making instincts and incredibly high basketball IQ. He was ready to lead an NBA offense immediately after college based on his point guard skills alone. All of those lead guard attributes were on full display this past Friday.
What was also listed on his scouting report were that he lacked NBA level athleticism and quickness for the point guard position; also, that he had a very questionable outside shot. These weaknesses were also on display but easily overshadowed by the positives of the night.
While Marshall has been knocking down his outside shot this season, currently shooting 61 percent from the field and 58 percent from 3, he also hit a deep 3 late in Friday’s game to give him 20 points on the night, he does not have a history of hitting outside shots with regularity and has an unorthodox, elongated shooting form that will make it difficult to get off on a consistent basis and especially when within arms reach of a defender. Hindering Marshall shot further is that he uses very little lift in his shot by not jumping, making his release point very low and much easier to alter by the hands of defenders.
Marshall’s lack of athleticism and quickness hasn’t seemed to impact his ability to penetrate defenses during his short stint with the Lakers; however, he has been the beneficiary of many screens to help him shed defenders.
Great athleticism and quickness are not a prerequisite to being effective in the NBA at the point guard position. Andre Miller, in the latter years of his career, has been very successful in running the point guard position and being very effective as a playmaker despite no longer possessing great athleticism or quickness. The same could be said about John Stockton and Steve Nash; however, both were great outside shooters, which Marshall is not.
Marshall does have a physical advantage of standing at 6 foot 4 inches tall, which could aid him in mitigating some of his shortcomings in both quickness and athleticism. His longer frame might give him a little bit more time to recover defensively against the quicker guards in the league and be more effective when guarding bigger guards when switching on screens. On offense, his height advantage will help him see over defenses better than your typical 6 foot tall point guard.
Could it be that all 30 NBA teams missed on Kendall Marshall? He was there for the taking for quite some time. After being selected 13th in the 2012 NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns, he was traded after just one disappointing rookie season to the Washington Wizards who then immediately waived him. Marshall then went through the waivers process, making him available to all of the other NBA teams and all passed on him. Available to be signed by any NBA team, Marshall went without a job in the NBA for around 2 months until the Lakers came calling in December, but only after all 3 of their point guards went down with injury. It would seem unlikely that teams would miss on talent with the amount of scouting that occurs in the NBA.
Marshall is still only 22 years old and just in his second year in the league. All of his weaknesses can be worked on and improved. Areas of his game can be added or adjusted to improve his game, such as adjusting the form on his shot, developing isolation moves to get my defenders and offset his lack of foot speed. But even with improvement in a players’ game, if the weaknesses are too great, it might not be enough to offset whatever strengths a player possesses. Based on Marshall’s lack of interest around the league I think they have already made their mind up about where he stands in terms of potential.
Where do you see Kendall Marshall’s career ending up? Do you think the league got it wrong and missed out on a future perennial ALL NBA team point guard or do you feel that Marshall’s weaknesses are far too great to overcome and will be out of the league in a few years? Maybe you feel his career will fall somewhere in the middle. Take part in our poll and project.