NBA Free Agency 2014: Examining Kendall Marshall's Fit With Milwaukee

Note: The following piece is the second part in a continuing series where we examine the point guard situation for Milwaukee. Late last week, I started out the series by taking a glance at new Bucks signee Jerryd Bayless. To continue this sequence, we’re going to examine former Laker guard Kendall Marshall, who will join Bayless as two of the latest additions to the Bucks roster.

The past few years have seen a growing trend around former lottery picks landing in the NBADL. While the vast majority of those names made that transition to the D-League through assignments from their own NBA teams, Kendall Marshall is a totally different story.

After a less than stellar rookie season with the Phoenix Suns, Marshall was pushed to the side in their backcourt rotation in favor of veterans Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, who they had recently acquired in a three-team deal. Despite that push to the edge of the Suns’ lineup, it was definitely a surprise when Marshall was moved to Washington as a small piece in a deal that helped send Emeka Okafor and a 2014 1st round pick (Tyler Ennis) to Phoenix. Mere days after the trade, Marshall was waived from Washington before even getting an opportunity to step foot in a Wizards uniform.

Following his dismissal from the Wizards, Marshall was stuck in a strange situation. Just a single year after being a lottery pick, the 6’5 guard was sitting on the unemployment line as the 2013-14 season began.

As the season began and continued to putter along, Marshall still sat on the sidelines without a gig until the calendar turned to December 2nd. The Delaware 87ers (official D-League affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers) acquired the former Tar Heels guard off the NBADL waiver wire.

During his extremely short seven-game stint with the 87ers, Kendall Marshall absolutely erupted as one of the best offensive players in the NBADL.  Marshall was incredibly successful during his 87ers’ career for his abilities as a distributor and perimeter threat. While the majority of his solid D-League numbers could be dismissed because of a small sample size, Marshall was able to elevate his fellow Delaware teammates. Marshall was able to average nearly 10 assists per game which would’ve put him on the top of the mountain, if he stayed in the NBADL during the entire season.

Besides his skills as a distributor, Marshall was able to dominate the D-League because of his continued solid play as a perimeter threat. Averaging around 6 three-point attempts per game, Marshall was able to shoot an extremely impressive 46% from the field.

Despite only being with the 87ers for around two weeks, Kendall Marshall was able to showcase enough to be picked up by the LA Lakers. Because of a variety of factors, Marshall was immediately inserted into the team’s starting point guard role. Despite being implanted in an unfamiliar situation for the 6’5 guard, he was able to establish a role as the Lakers’ main distributor. By working alongside the perimeter-minded Lakers’ squad, Marshall was able to utilize his large frame to penetrate and spot open teammates. Because of his notable height difference compared to the average point guard, Marshall is able to scope the defense to find the best scoring option.

That ability is showcased by an extremely solid 3.18 AST/TO ratio, which put him over the likes of Kyle Lowry, Rajon Rondo and Mike Conley. Because of that overall solid play and the Lakers’ continued struggles with injuries,  Marshall was tasked to be the team’s dominant distributor. That is clearly showcased by his outrageous 44.3% assist percentage, which put him second in the league behind Clippers All-Star Chris Paul.

Besides his work as a distributor, Marshall was able to transfer his solid perimeter ability to the NBA and the Lakers. Even though his overall shooting percentage dipped south during that transition, Marshall was able shoot an extremely solid 40% from beyond the arc. That solid percentage is pretty impressive because Marshall has an extremely low shooting release. With that in mind, Marshall is able to overcome that potential flaw by simply being larger than the opposition, which allows him to get a clean shot over his defender.

Being able to judge Marshall’s overall body of work is more difficult. While he’s able to use his large frame to move his way through the paint, Marshall definitely struggles to be productive around the rim. As apparent from the above video, the 6’5 guard struggles to consistently muscle his way around the rim. While that hinders his ability to score from inside the paint, it also prevents him from working his way to the free throw line. That was  glaring when  looking at how Marshall only had .8 free throw attempts per 36 minutes.

As we transfer over to the defensive end, various question marks continue to remain with Kendall Marshall. Much of this piece is  centered around Marshall’s ability to use his lanky frame, which is clearly apparent from his work on defense. When he’s able to stay in front of the opposition on the perimeter or during penetration, Marshall becomes an extremely effective defender. He possesses enough strength to overpower the opposing guard while having the lateral quickness to stay in front of them.

With that in mind, Marshall struggles to consistently have good defensive positioning in front of the opposition. Despite his solid lateral quickness, Marshall is prone to be slow to react when his opponent is cutting to the rim or positioning himself around the perimeter.

Kendall Marshall’s transition into the Bucks rotation is going to be one of the more intriguing storylines to look at as we work closer to the upcoming season.

With Milwaukee’s current four guard rotation (Wolters, Knight, Bayless and Marshall), it’s definitely possible for Marshall to work his way into a role as the Bucks’ third guard/spot-starter. His unique size will add some potential flexibility with Wolters and/or Knight.

A potential pairing of Wolters and Marshall would be pretty intriguing because of their similar approaches on the offensive end. With Milwaukee having an extremely young core that’s centered around Parker and Giannis, having two solid offensive facilitators on the court together wouldn’t make for the worst pairing in the world.

Meanwhile, the potential Knight/Marshall duo could make for an entertaining and intriguing thing to behold. While the aforementioned Wolters/Marshall pairing is focused on their similar skills as distributor, Knight and Marshall are able to bring various aspects to the table. Despite the fact that Knight has been improving as an overall facilitator, his main focus has been on his ability to score from various aspects of the court. Potentially pairing up with Marshall would allow Knight to transition into the shooting guard role, which was a position that he held during his time with the Pistons.
As apparent from the overall theme of this piece, there’s a lot of possibilities that surround Marshall’s future with the team. Despite the questions about his defensive and overall scoring ability, his unique size and frame allows him to work in some unique situations and guard multiple positions. Even though the jury is still out on if he’ll be able to improve from the prior season, the addition of Kendall Marshall has the potential to be a “diamond in the rough” move that many other teams thrive for.

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