The battered and bruised Los Angeles Lakers may have finally found a stopgap point guard for the present...and a building block for the future.
Not a bad day's work on a Thirsty Thursday.
With all three of Mike D'Antoni's point guards (Steve Blake, Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar) on the shelf and substitute floor general Kobe Bryant joining them there for the next six weeks with a broken bone in his left knee, the Lakers needed to do something.
Kendall Marshall was in Austin, Tex., with Delaware 87ers and catching a flight to Los Angeles tonight to join Lakers, sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 20, 2013
Marshall's name won't light up Lakers nation. Not right off the bat, at least.
But the 22-year-old North Carolina product is a low-risk, high-reward signing. The No. 13 pick in 2012, he's in need of some reputation repair not unlike what some of his new Lakers teammates—and former lottery picks—have already found in L.A. (Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry and Jordan Hill).
Enough on how he arrived in Tinseltown. Now that he's there, just what exactly should Lakers fans expect to see from their point guard?
He's Always Looking for His Teammates
There's a reason Marshall had a big enough buzz to be the second point guard to come off the board in 2012.
He has the body (6'4", 195 lbs) and the mind to man the lead guard spot in the NBA.
He lives to share the basketball. In his two years as a Tar Heel, he averaged exactly 8.0 assists in only 28.8 minutes of floor time. He's also not someone who hurts himself. During his sophomore (and final) season at Chapel Hill, he coughed up just 2.8 turnovers in 33.0 minutes per night.
Scouts raved about his ability to move the basketball. NBADraft.net's Tyler Ingle called him "a brilliant, natural floor general" who "makes his teammates better."
He sees passing lanes that other players can't, threading needles like a seamstress.
His professional career has been a bit rocky (more on that later), but that hasn't diminished his desire to share the rock. He averaged 7.3 assists per 36 minutes in 48 career NBA games and ranked second in the D-League with 9.6 assists (to go along with 19.4 points and 4.7 rebounds) before the Lakers called him up to the big league.
If the Lakers put enough scorers around him, he'll find a way to keep the scoreboard moving.
He's Not a Great Shooter
And that's putting it lightly.
During his rookie season with the Phoenix Suns, he shot just 37.1 percent from the field and 31.5 percent from distance. In seven D-League games this season, he was only hitting 41.9 percent of his attempts from the floor, although he did convert 46.3 percent of his three-point looks.
Shot-making is kind of a big deal with his new coach, Mike D'Antoni:
Hope he packs a jump shot with him. Prereq for Mike D PGs RT @ramonashelburne: Can confirm Lakers have chosen to sign Kendall Marshall.— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) December 20, 2013
He doesn't look comfortable dialing his own number. He has a slow shooting stroke and one that would never be labeled as smooth. He also seems a bit out of place among today's supercharged athletes running point. He does not grade well on either the speed or strength scales.
But he could be one of these project players saved by the D-League. Even if the competition field is watered down, 46 percent from deep is still 46 percent from deep.
As long as scouts haven't scrapped their reports on him, he'll have to prove his ability to consistently hit shots from the perimeter at this level. That could be a welcome challenge. At the least, it should help guarantee him some good looks early on.
He Deserves and Appreciates This Chance
Now, let's get to that rocky NBA road.
It's hard to hold many complaints about being an NBA lottery pick, but Marshall entered a less-than-ideal situation with the Phoenix Suns. He hit the desert right after Steve Nash vacated it. Since both players share the same position, he was seen as the heir apparent even if that wasn't the Suns' original intent.
Even worse, he just so happened to also share a position with Phoenix's best player at the time, Goran Dragic. With Dragic chewing up a team-high 33.5 minutes, Marshall was left collecting playing-time scraps (14.6 minutes per night).
Not surprisingly, his tenure with the franchise was brief.
After a rookie campaign that could be classified as either disappointing or just incomplete—probably a little of both—he was one of the five players involved in the deal that sent Marcin Gortat to the Washington Wizards before the start of this season.
His stay in the nation's capital was even shorter than his previous NBA stop:
#wizards have waived Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee & Kendall Marshall, the other 3 players acquired from PHX in Marcin Gortat deal.— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) October 28, 2013
In a little over a year, his playing career had taken him from Phoenix to Washington to Delaware. Imagine how fun that ride must have been.
Not surprisingly, this ticket to Hollywood has Marshall counting his blessings:
humbled and blessed.— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) December 20, 2013
And why wouldn't it?
He shouldn't have those same road blocks that he did in Phoenix. Nor the same lofty expectations.
With a thin, or nonexistent, rotation standing in his way, this spot with the Lakers is more miracle than life preserver:
Seriously though - what an opportunity for Kendall Marshall— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) December 20, 2013
It's hard to say that he failed his first NBA test. I'm not sure he even received the exam. For the first time in his career, he'll be sinking or swimming in NBA waters, taking us all along for the ride.
He's a Social Media Genius
Seriously, this guy could win the Internet. His social media work is that kind of special:
At what age do you tell a highway it was adopted?— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) February 25, 2013
If this whole basketball thing doesn't work out, he could have a future as a life coach. Following him on Twitter is like guaranteeing yourself a key to infinite wisdom:
the other side of the pillow really do be cooler tho.— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) December 19, 2013
Burger King french toast still undefeated.— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) December 19, 2013
Although, not everyone is a fan of his virtual work apparently:
my sister blocked me on twitter. lmaoo— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) December 17, 2013
He might not match Nick Young's swag, but he'll find a special spot in Hollywood. He's funny, engaging and humble. He's the larger-than-life personality the Lakers thought they were getting in Dwight Howard, only this one comes without the headaches and with that badly needed on-off switch.
Don't expect any closed-door battles with the Black Mamba or the tossing of anyone under the bus.
But do look for the Lakers to take advantage of his digital savvy. This franchise rarely misses the chance to make a social media splash.
Marshall isn't a franchise savior, and the Lakers won't be asking him to play that role.
But he is someone who comes with a lot of talent and finally has the opportunity to showcase it on basketball's biggest stage.
The Lakers have shown an ability to unearth talent that other teams can't find of late. Marshall's another guy who could be reborn under the Hollywood lights.