Point Guard Depth Options for the LA Lakers
Replacing Steve Nash is a difficult task, but the Los Angeles Lakers appear content to do it internally. Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar have done a pretty nice job collectively, and there's hope that Nash will be able to return to action at some point in the future.
Of course, because the Lakers can't depend on Nash any longer, it might be prudent to add a third point guard to the roster.
With 15 players already on the roster, however, that may be difficult.
The contracts of Elias Harris, Ryan Kelly, Xavier Henry and Shawne Williams will become guaranteed by January 10, so at that juncture, the Lakers may consider letting go of Harris or Kelly in exchange for a point guard.
A few days prior to that deadline, teams can sign players to 10-day contracts.
This would be a good time for the Lakers to get a look at a few young guys in the D-League. There's a solid chance that the bottom half of next year's roster will be filled out with those types of players.
Remember, if the Lakers want max cap space this offseason, they'll almost certainly have to renounce the rights to all their expiring players first.
With all that in mind, let's look exclusively at free-agent and D-League depth options at point guard for the Lakers to explore this year.
Kendall Marshall, G, Free Agent
Profile: 22-year-old 6'4" point guard from North Carolina, 13th pick in 2012 draft. Currently unsigned.
The Lakers have had varying degrees of success with former high draft picks like Xavier Henry and Shawne Williams, so perhaps putting Marshall in a point guard-friendly system would yield similar results.
Marhsall isn't a guy who can shoot or create offense for himself, but he has a knack for setting up others and making good decisions. He's a pure distributor.
Rookie years can often be hectic and provide misleading results, and Marshall experienced that with the Phoenix Suns. He was surrounded by lackluster talent, first and foremost, but a coaching change midway through the season didn't do him any favors, either.
One year isn't enough time to write the book on a player. If the Lakers want another reclamation project, giving Marshall the chance to learn Mike D'Antoni's offensive system may pay dividends.
Seth Curry, G, Santa Cruz Warriors
Profile: 23-year-old 6'3" point guard from Duke. Went undrafted in 2013. Currently in the D-League with the Santa Cruz Warriors. Older brother is kind of a big deal.
This isn't a J.R./Chris Smith situation here. Seth can actually play.
It's very early in the D-League season, but Curry is lighting it up with 23 points and nine assists a game. We know about the pedigree and the sweet shooting stroke, but if Curry can continue to distribute effectively, which was the knock on him at Duke, he could find his way onto an NBA roster soon enough.
It seems like only a matter of time before Curry gets called up to the show, and Los Angeles would be a great fit. Curry is the type of three-point specialist Mike D'Antoni loves to have in his back pocket.
Giving Steve Nash a slight-of-frame pure shooter to mentor and mold into a true point guard makes sense as well. If nothing else, it would be fun to see the reactions of your more casual Lakers fans after the Lakers signed "S. Curry" to a deal.
Ron Howard, G, Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Profile: 31-year-old 6'5" combo guard from Valparaiso. Only five more players had played more minutes in the D-League than he has.
This one is a little different. Howard isn't young, and he's probably approaching the tail end of his prime. He's been stuck in the D-League for years and years.
So why should the Lakers add him for depth?
Because he deserves a shot. Howard has been through multiple training camps and preseasons, but he's never had a chance at actual NBA time.
Howard isn't a shooter, but he's a scorer with great size who pitches in all over the floor. He's a guy who could play at either guard spot, and his skills would complement those of Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and Nick Young pretty well.
And think about all the ancillary benefits. We'd get Arrested Development jokes. We'd see Lakers fans who have yet to burn their Dwight Howard jerseys have a reason to revive them. Most importantly, we'd get to see a guy who has been grinding his whole career finally break through.
It's a story made for Hollywood, and even if there are probably better options for the Lakers to explore, I'm hoping it happens, even if it's for only 10 days.
Pierre Jackson, G, Idaho Stampede
Profile: 22-year-old 5'11" guard from Baylor. Went 42nd in the 2013 NBA draft and was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans. Was selected fourth overall in the D-League draft this year.
Despite his size, Jackson is one of the most athletic point guards out there. He's a natural scorer, and he's not afraid to take the ball right to the rim.
In the D-League with the Idaho Stampede, Jackson is averaging 30.5 points a game, which isn't much of a surprise given his scoring aptitude at Baylor.
Jackson can play in the pick-and-roll a bit, but he's best in transition when he can build up a head of steam. Although turnovers are an issue, you have to like a player who is willing to take some chances.
Jackson's NBA future will likely depend on his ability to defend and shoot a high percentage from the perimeter. Those are two the things the Lakers would want if they added another point guard.
But Jackson's athletic gifts give him a base to work from that very few other point guards have. He could play a Nate Robinson role for the Lakers.
Scott Machado, G, Free Agent
Profile: 23-year-old 6'2" point guard from Iona. Undrafted in 2012 draft. Played with the Houston Rockets last season.
Scott Machado has kicked around the D-League and is a name frequently mentioned during summer leagues and training camps, but he hasn't been able to stick quite yet.
Machado has all the instincts of a true point guard, but there's nothing else he does that really pops out. Similar to Kendall Marshall, he'll set the table and play within himself, and maybe that's the type of guy you want in practice everyday and off the bench in limited minutes.
The Lakers have plenty of guys who love to shoot, so maybe adding a point guard who loves to pass would be a natural fit.
Besides, it's never a bad idea to poach players Rockets general manager Daryl Morey recently showed interest in. After pulling Patrick Beverley out of nowhere, other general managers should be trying to cheat off his paper as much as possible.