What Kendall Marshall Brings to the Table for LA Lakers

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJanuary 4, 2014

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 29: Kendall Marshall #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the basketball during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at STAPLES Center on December 29, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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I'll tell you what Kendall Marshall brings to the table—a functioning body with all of his limbs and ligaments intact. 

If you didn't hear, Marshall has been named the new conductor of the Los Angeles Lakers offense, with Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar all out for at least the next three weeks. 

Two months ago, Marshall was traded by the Phoenix Suns and immediately waived by the Washington Wizards. And now he's the Lakers' starting point guard. 

"Stuff is happening pretty fast," Marshall told Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times.

Marshall should be in line for major minutes, given how shallow L.A.'s backcourt is with Kobe Bryant and Xavier Henry also on the shelf. 

However, there is hope for a match between Marshall and the Lakers. I actually wouldn't be surprised to see him put up some numbers in Mike D'Antoni's offense.

There's no doubt Marshall has his flaws, but if there's one thing positive you can say for sure, it's that he's as pure as they come at his position. Marshall is a pass-first, pass-second, natural point guard.

As a sophomore at North Carolina, Marshall finished No. 2 in the country in assists with 9.7 a game. He was aided by the tempo that coach Roy Williams liked to play at—the Tar Heels finished No. 9 in the country in pace that year. 

The good news is that the Lakers currently rank No. 4 in the NBA pace, which should tie in well with Marshall's down-court vision. 

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 31: Kendall Marshall #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the basketball during a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at STAPLES Center on December 31, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

His core strength is passing. And that's realistically what he's going to provide most to L.A. He's a precision passer, both from an accuracy and timeliness standpoint. Pick-and-rolls, skip passes, bounce passes through traffic, bounce passes from distance, fast-break passes—Marshall's best attribute is his instincts as a distributor. 

But while his passing game is strong, Marshall's playmaking ability has been held in check.

Despite his high assist numbers in a power conference, he had never been considered a can't-miss prospect due to a lack of athleticism at a position that typically requires it in the NBA.

At the 2012 NBA combine, Marshall's agility score ranked No. 48 out of 54 prospects who took the test. How ugly was his result? At No. 49 on the list was Fab Melo—one of the clumsiest big guys you'll see. 

There just isn't much margin for error with a point guard who can't break down defenses or offer any defensive resistance. 

If Marshall is going to contribute positive minutes for the Lakers, he's going to have to knock down some jumpers. Three-point shooting was never considered one of his strengths, as he only hit 48 total in 78 college games. But he did prove he can knock them down if open, and he's coming off a seven-game D-League stint where he shot it over 46 percent from downtown. 

I'd imagine he'll get better with each start as his confidence grows, both as a facilitator and a shooter. Given the circumstances, I think he might even surprise a few people now that this is the first time in his career he's locked into consistent minutes. 

Marshall isn't the next Mark Jackson, but he's worth experimenting with after losing your first three point guards. I'm not sure there's a better band aid available at the position.


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