Los Angeles Lakers Player Grades: Kendall Marshall

Darius Soriano —  May 29, 2014

General Thoughts on the Season

If I would have told you before the season started that a Lakers’ point guard would be 2nd in the league in assists, you’d have thought “wow, Steve Nash really came back well from his injury, huh?” or even “man, Steve Blake really is thriving under Mike D’Antoni!” right? And if I’d have told you, nope, Kendall Marshall was the guy who racked up all those dimes your response would have been “who?”.

And really, that’s the story of Kendall Marshall’s season with the Lakers.

The 2nd year point guard really did come out of nowhere to be a key rotation player for this team. Called up from the D-League after the Lakers had another horrific injury run to their point guards, Marshall instantly showed that his pass first (and second and third) approach was a perfect match for Mike D’Antoni’s spread pick and roll attack. This offense needed a playmaker at the point and Marshall provided just that, hitting teammates with passes right into their shooting pockets and scoring just enough to keep defenses honest.

Like any young player, Marshall had his ups and downs. After making his debut he proved to be a viable lead guard and put up some eye popping stats while playing heavy minutes only to struggle severely as a scorer and become turnover prone late in the year. Overall, however, it’s hard to see his campaign as anything but a success. After all, how many guys go from D-League obscurity to racking up double digit assist games as starting point guard for the Lakers?

Strengths/Weaknesses

Kendall Marshall

As the shot chart above shows, Marshall’s biggest strength isn’t shooting the ball. Yes, his three point percentage was nearly 40% and he showed the ability to stretch the floor as a spot up shooter when defenses sagged down to help in the post or closed out with hesitation so he would not get into the lane where he could better create shots for others. But from mid-range and in the paint, Marshall simply was not a great finisher — especially in traffic. If there’s one area where he really needs to grow his game it’s as a scorer, specifically when he gets a step on his defender but meets help in the lane. Developing a runner or a floater would do wonders for his scoring efficiency and open up his passing even more.

That last point is actually a bit scary to think about considering how well Marshall created shots for others and set them up for easy scores. Despite facing defenses that often did not respect his ability to score while playing him for the pass, Marshall averaged 8.8 assists per game which was good for 2nd in the league behind Chris Paul. Marshall’s ability to not only see the floor and pick out the open man, but to throw passes that were on time and on target was fantastic all season and really helped create a better offensive flow when he was in the game.

While his offensive contributions were key to the success the Lakers did have this season, his defense was also a reason for the team’s struggles. Though he possesses good size, Marshall isn’t exactly a stellar athlete. And on defense his lack of foot speed and lateral agility made it tough for him to guard many of his point guard counterparts. This often left the Lakers putting Marshall on opponents’ weakest offensive players and exposing their other perimeter players to match ups that they weren’t quite comfortable with. Further, all too often Marshall simply seemed disinterested with battling defensively and doing the dirty work that is required of players of his ilk; players who cannot rely on physical gifts to defend well. Marshall often didn’t bump cutters, would lose connectivity with his man when defending off the ball, and didn’t help the helper with physicality when having to battle big men on the glass. Overall, he simply didn’t show the same awareness or willingness defensively as he did on the other side of the ball.

Most Memorable Moment

Rather than pick out a single moment, here is a compilation of Marshall’s highlights from the year. While there were certain games that stood out that deserve mention, for me this season was more about Marshall’s total body of work and showing that, offensively, he really can run and offense and be a high level playmaker.

Overall Grade and Summary

While I would love to go higher, I can’t really give Marshall any better than a B on the season. His passing and instincts for playmaking were top flight, but his inconsistency as a shooter and scorer combined with his struggles defensively left me wanting more. That said, the fact that he came from the D-League to play heavy minutes and put up some amazing stat lines over the course of the year deserve heavy praise. Marshall was essentially staring at his NBA mortality in the face and fought to show that he really does belong in this league. And while I’m not completely sold that his ceiling is any higher than a back up on a good team, there is always a place for a guy who has instincts and floor general skills like he has.


Darius Soriano

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214 responses to Los Angeles Lakers Player Grades: Kendall Marshall

  1. Renato: someone named eric pincus at the los angeles times agrees with you:

    http://bleacherreport.com/tb/ddcPq?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=los-angeles-lakers

    hopefully it penetrates the front office walls of mitch and jim. at least take a look see, right?

    Go lakers

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  2. Fern-I agree with you on principle, but I wonder if trading to get more picks this year (and maybe even next year) may perhaps benefit us in the long run. Statistically, we are looking at a role player with the 7th pick, not a franchise defining guy. Perhaps we are better off if we can swap that one role player for 2 or 3 more role players at relatively low cost while still keeping our cap space low for this season and next.

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  3. I read FBG all the time but don’t often post. I see many recent posts about whether the Lakers should entertain trading down and getting two picks for their current #7 selection. Trading down in the NBA is not like the NFL where it’s done more frequently. In football you have so many positional needs that the two for one can make a lot of sense.

    The Lakers are so short on talent that they need to keep the pick and get a player that can produce almost immediately. They do not have the luxury of drafting a LaVine (sorry Bobby) and waiting a few years for him to hit his stride. When you think about all of the expired contracts the Lakers have and the fact that Kobe/Nash were injured all last year there a good chance this draft pick may be the best Laker on the floor many nights.

    I do not think the Lakers will trade the pick for a veteran, like Love. I think the concern is that he would leave like DHoward. The Lakers can’t afford to have that happen. Let’s be honest – the Lakers are 2 to 3 years away. This draft provides a key building block. The rest will come through signing FA/RFA.

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  4. the other Stephen June 3, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Since we’re all contemplating the future of the Lakers, I think it’s a good time to bring up this golden post by the incomparable Jon Bois: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2014/6/3/5772796/nba-y2k-series-finale-the-death-of-basketball. Y’all probably need a good laugh.

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  5. As for suggestion 2 for 1 on draft.

    2 years ago I screamed for Lakers to take Thomas who ended up last pick by Sac.

    Either I am smart or a idiot because I am doing it again .

    Napier is a winner and will be better then Thomas. I would be very happy with Napier and Saric who could both start.

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  6. On trading down vs. drafting at the 7th spot:

    I think the fallacy of trading down to get more than one “good” potential role player is that these kinds of players are available as free agents on relatively cheap, short-term deals. Guys like Bazemore, Johnson, Henry et al are going to be better this season and likely will be better long term than most prospects picked beyond the 10th pick. To maximize the potential talent pool in free agency, you need a system in place to plug guys into. We are at a disadvantage if we go into the draft without a coach, and I expect we will have one before then. Where garnering later picks makes the most sense is in drafting bigs. Taking a flyer on a international prospect with a later pick can be a great move, as the Lakers did with Vlade. There are a couple of guys in this draft who might be worth it.

    If we keep the pick, I’d take one of these guys in this order (if still on the board): Vonleh, Gordon, Smart, Randle. My darkhorse is a reach pick: LaVine. The mock I respect the most after many years of following them is nbadraft.net. These guys put LaVine ahead of Gordon as top prospect from the Pac12.

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  7. Manny,

    The article is indeed slanted towards the new tech and slanted against the Lakers–that is how ESPN rolls. I said so at the time.

    That said, the Spurs use this company, as do the Mavericks. To me, given the management of those teams, that is a strong data point. And, while we cannot prove a connections, the Lakers injuries have gotten worse since McKechnie left.

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  8. Gary Harris of Michigan State (as I mentioned above) could be a real find. He’s 19 years old (and will turn 20 on September 14). His upside is enormous. Below are some stats:

    6-4, 210
    16.7 ppg
    42.9% fg percentage
    35.2 3-pt. percentage
    81% ft percentge
    4.0 rebounds per game
    2.7 assists per game
    1.8 steals per game

    In addition, he was considered by some to be the best perimeter defender in the Big Ten last year. Nbadraft.net has projected him as the 11th pick. Could he go higher?

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  9. Bottom line: Trading down would signify the Lakers know their is no 2014-2015 postseason, and since they will only have a 1st round pick next year’s if it’s a top 5 pick…next season could be longer than this one.

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  10. rr – Yes. You are correct. I think the FO needs to take a hard look at our conditioning/physical trainers and assess why there is a gap. It may be time for some new faces . This is one area where it pays off to be a trend-setter rather than a follower.

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  11. @Brian
    Everyone has heard that Kobe story, but the problem is that all parties involved deny that it happened like that. BTW shouldn’t the title be…how the great Jerry West manipulated the Nets into not picking Kobe Bryant? That doesn’t fit the narrative about JW though…

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  12. Mid-W: Gary Harris measured 6’2 1/2″ in socks, with a 6’7″ wingspan. That’s very small for a projected shooting guard. He apparently doesn’t have the skills to play the point.

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