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Phoenix Suns' Castoff Kendall Marshall Is LA Lakers' Keeper

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Phoenix Suns' Castoff Kendall Marshall Is LA Lakers' Keeper
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A former lottery pick who was out of the league after one season...no one saw this breakout coming from Kendall Marshall.

Kendall Marshall has opened a lot of eyes around the league with his performance to date with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers have had a miserable season so far, but you have to give them a lot of credit in one area—they have gotten incredible values out of the NBA's bargain bin.

Guys like Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and Xavier Henry—players who no team was willing to touch—have made meaningful contributions to this Lakers team.

And now you can add Marshall to that list, maybe even at the very top given how desperate L.A. was for a point guard healthy enough to suit up every night and how far off the NBA radar Marshall was.

It shouldn't have come as an absolute shock to the league that Marshall could be a competent lead guard.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Marshall was a third team All-American at North Carolina in 2012, averaging 9.8 assists a game in just 33 minutes.

After all, he averaged nearly 10 assists a game as a sophomore for a very good North Carolina team that won 30-plus games, earned a No. 1 seed in the tournament and reached the Elite Eight in 2012 (and could potentially have gone further had Marshall not suffered a season-ending broken wrist in the second round).

So why did two teams bail on him before he ever really got an opportunity to play?

You can certainly understand the Phoenix Suns shipping him out as part of the Marcin Gortat-for-Emeka Okafor swap, as the Suns already had two very good point guards on the roster. 

Goran Dragic is currently Phoenix's highest-paid rotation player and is signed through 2015 (with a player option for 2016).

Eric Bledsoe is about to get a monster deal this offseason as a restricted free agent coming off his rookie deal and will be the new face of the franchise.

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With Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe on board, it's no wonder the Phoenix Suns dumped Marshall, but the rest of the league missed out on an opportunity to snap him up.

With that much lead guard talent on the roster (and the cap sheet), there was no need to keep Marshall around.

The team that really missed the boat, though, was the Washington Wizards.

Washington waived Marshall—along with Shannon Brown and Malcolm Lee—immediately upon arrival, but in hindsight they sure could have used a player with Marshall's exact skill set.

Backup point guard is the Wizards' weakest position. 

They thought they had it covered after inking Eric Maynor to a two-year deal in the summer, but Maynor has been a massive disappointment. He hasn't gotten into a game in nearly a month despite being healthy, and he hasn't scored a point since December 6.

The alternative, Garrett Temple, hasn't been much better.

Neither one has been anywhere near as productive as Marshall has been since signing with the Lakers.

In just 14 games, Marshall has already eclipsed the season-long minutes total of both Maynor and Temple, who have played 22 and 38 games respectively.

Since Marshall was inserted as L.A.'s starting point guard, he has averaged 12 points and 11.8 assists a night while connecting on nearly 45 percent of his triples.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
If Marshall's outside shooting is for real (46.4 percent on threes so far this season), he will have a long, productive NBA career.

No player in the NBA is handing out as many assists as Marshall over that span.

With his ability to read the floor and run an offense, Marshall will be a solid backup point guard for the next decade. And he's early enough in his career to still get better.

His ceiling is becoming a poor man's Andre Miller with a three-point shot. His floor is Greivis Vasquez—someone who started 78 games last year and led the league in total assists.

The Lakers made a savvy pickup by signing Marshall on the cheap.

As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure.

Or, in this case, one team's castoff is another team's keeper.

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