Kendall Marshall has had a serious resurgence since joining the Los Angeles Lakers.
Just a couple months ago, the point guard couldn't get on an NBA roster and was toiling away in the D-League. Now, he's putting up some serious stats.
Marshall, who was the 13th pick in the 2012 draft by the Phoenix Suns, was awful as a rookie. He rarely got into games, and when he did, he didn't produce much, averaging only 3.0 points and 3.0 assists.
To make matters worse, the point guard couldn't shoot with any consistency, hitting only 31.5 percent of his three-pointers and 32.5 percent of all jump shots. Marshall's inability to create for himself consequently made it so he couldn't create for others, leading to an assist percentage of 29.4 percent.
This season has been night and day for the 22-year-old compared to the last. Marshall has found his stroke, hitting a league-leading 47.6 percent of his three-pointers and 41.4 percent of all jump shots. In turn, it's opened up the passing lanes, allowing him to find teammates and increasing his assist percentage to 45.9 percent.
Instead of averaging 3.0 points and 3.0 assists, Marshall is now averaging 10.7 points and 9.8 assists. In short, he's one of the top candidates for the Most Improved Player award.
But one person who isn't impressed is Marshall's head coach, Mike D'Antoni.
D'Antoni putting Kendall Marshall's eye-popping numbers in perspective: "You're not a very good player if you don't win"— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 21, 2014
As the coach points out, even though Marshall is putting up good numbers, his production isn't really translating to wins. Since "you play to win the game," the fact the point guard is putting up gaudy statistics in losing efforts doesn't mean much.
If anything, it means Marshall isn't a very good player. Or, at least, that's what D'Antoni would have you think.
To a point, the coach is correct. Since Marshall first suited up for the team on Dec. 21, the Lakers are 5-23. That's an abysmal .178 winning percentage. Extrapolated over the course of a season, that would be even worse than the .185 winning percentage the league-worst Milwaukee Bucks are posting.
Of course, if the fact that Marshall is performing well in losing efforts means he isn't a very good player, then what does the losing say about the job D'Antoni has done as coach? Not very much, obviously.
The coach hasn't been able to get anything going for the Lakers. Often lamented for not coaching much defense, the same is once again true of a D'Antoni team, as Los Angeles is 25th in defensive rating, giving up 108.8 points per 100 possessions.
But unlike past D'Antoni teams who also didn't play much defense, the Lakers also aren't doing much on the offensive end. That's something you usually couldn't say about his teams. It's unequivocally true with Los Angeles though, as it's only 22nd in offensive rating, with 103.1 points per 100 possessions.
Where's the disconnect? Well, as is customary of his teams, the Lakers are pushing the ball, ranking second in pace factor. But they're 19th in turnover percentage and are 20th in field-goal percentage.
So while Los Angeles is playing fast, it's not protecting the ball and it's not converting its shot opportunities. That's certainly not a recipe for success, especially if you're not playing defense, as the Lakers aren't.
And as the coach, D'Antoni's the one who's truly in charge of the Lakers. If anyone is to be held responsible for the team's 18-36 record, it'll be him.
The coach may have made a good point about the job Marshall's doing as the point guard, but he also, ironically, took a stab at the job he's doing as head coach.
Unless noted otherwise, all stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.
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