What Kendall Marshall Brings To The Bucks


The Bucks were officially awarded the contract of Kendall Marshall on Sunday, one day after claiming him off waivers from the Lakers.

His unguaranteed deal for the 2014-15 season checks in at $915,243.

The 22-year-old promptly – like, literally right after the claim became official – took to Twitter to reach out to the Los Angeles fan base, thanking them for his one season in the purple and gold:

He also reached out to Chipotle.

So, what do we know about Marshall?

For starters, he’s #TeamChipotle, so we’re already off on the right foot.

But he’s also one of the most decisive, smartest point guards in the league.

The stats tell us he averaged 8.0 points and 8.8 assists – good for second in the league behind Chris Paul – in 54 games last season. He was the NBA’s top per-36 assist producer (11.0 per game).

In the month of March, when injuries to Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake transformed the Lakers backcourt into a D-League all-star team, Marshall flourished, posting 11.9 points and 11.5 assists with a 3.8:1 assist/turnover ratio in nearly 40 minutes per game. Over that 15-game span, the Lakers won only three games, but Marshall had 11 double-digit assist performances, including seven of 13 or more.

So he’s a good passer – a really good passer, even by NBA point guard standards.

But can he shoot?

Well, kind of.

Marshall was an average outside shooter as a sophomore at North Carolina (35.4%) and hit only 23-of-73 threes (31.5%) in 48 games for the Suns as a rookie two seasons ago. His overall field goal percentage (37.1%) wasn’t very good, but considering almost half of his shots came from beyond the arc, it wasn’t atrocious.

In Year 2, Marshall’s field goal percentage improved, but only moderately (40.6%). He continued to struggle in the in the mid-range, converting only 31.3 percent of shots between 16 feet and the three-point line. It’s the worst shot in basketball, and 20 percent of Marshall’s shots came from that range. That’s too many.

Marshall gets to the rim at a decent rate for a player of his skill set, using crafty moves and ball fakes, rather than sheer speed or dribble moves, to maneuver around defenders.

Only 23 percent of his attempts came from between 0-3 feet last season, but he converted at better than a 53 percent clip. Compare that to Damian Lillard – the virtual opposite of Marshall in nearly every way – who shot 51 percent from within three feet (29% of total field goal attempts).


Marshall did make major strides as an outside shooter, however, hitting just under 40 percent of his threes. During that aforementioned 15-game stint in March, Marshall converted more than 44 percent of his attempts from long range. As is the case with most pass-first point guards, Marshall thrives in catch-and-shoot scenarios, as opposed to pulling up off the dribble. A whopping 96 percent of his made three-pointers were assisted last season. By comparison, only 65 percent of Brandon Knight’s 110 made threes resulted in an assist. (Sidebar: 89% of Knight’s threes were assisted with the Pistons in 2012-13. That’s a huge difference).

So, Marshall is by no means a great shooting point guard, percentage wise, but he’s developed a nice stroke from beyond the arc that’s more than reliable enough to keep defenses honest. Even though his lateral quickness is below-average, defenders have to respect his catch-and-shoot ability, which allows him to get into the lane.

As for free throw shooting?

Most point guards who shoot the three well tend to produce efficiently at the line. That’s not the case here, and it never really has been. Marshall didn’t top 70 percent from the line during his two years as a Tar Heel and shot a downright baffling 52.8 percent last season. And he doesn’t even have Rondo alien hands. Granted, he only attempted 36 free throws, but still. Very strange.

I don’t have an explanation for it, but from what I can tell, he appears to “push” the ball off his hand, as opposed to “flicking” it like most pure shooters tend to do.

Here’s a three from his rookie year. Not the greatest defensive effort from our friend Darren Collison.

I don’t know, maybe I’m grasping at straws here, but that’s not what I would call a “pure” shooting stroke.

But for whatever reason, it works from beyond the arc. If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Marshall only generated 16 shooting fouls in over 1,500 minutes last season.

Marshall is often overmatched by quicker point guards. (Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports)

Defensively, Marshall has plenty of room for improvement.

He moves methodically and isn’t laterally quick, which is essentially a recipe for disaster on that end of the court. While Marshall has good size (6-4, 195), he doesn’t use it to his advantage and has a tough time keeping quicker point guards – so pretty much all of them – in front of him.

His 112 defensive rating was among the lowest of any guard in the league last season. Yes, the Lakers were a porous defensive team, but their numbers dropped significantly when Marshall entered the rotation on a consistent basis.

It remains to be seen how he’ll be used in Milwaukee, but Jason Kidd and his staff will need to find ways to mask him defensively.

His fit with the current roster is also a bit of an unknown. First off, the addition leaves the Bucks with 17 players on the roster, meaning two will need to be dropped. Chris Wright, whose deal is unguaranteed, is the obvious and most likely candidate.

With Milwaukee also adding Jerryd Bayless, Marshall steps into a backcourt composed of Brandon Knight, O.J. Mayo, Nate Wolters, Bayless and Giannis Antetokounmpo (sometimes). Kidd has vowed to play Giannis at the point, but it’s difficult to see him serving as the starter.

If the Bucks truly believe Knight is better suited for the shooting guard spot, there would appear to be an opening at the one. In that scenario, Marshall would compete with Wolters and Bayless for the starting nod. But really, it’s dependent upon how Kidd and his staff intend to use Giannis and Knight, so it’s a bit early to even speculate.

And who knows what to expect from Mayo, who was all but written off by the end of last season. If he returns focused and in shape, he adds another element to the backcourt predicament.

A few other Marshall notes:

– Selected 13th overall by the Suns in the 2012 draft.

– For as much as Marshall contributes on the court, he might be an even more valuable asset off of it. He’s one of the best and most active NBA players on social media – Twitter (@KButter5), Vine (KB5) and Instagram in particular. 213K Twitter followers for a player most casual fans probably wouldn’t know is no joke.

– Marshall was a college teammate of John Henson. The two starred together at North Carolina for two seasons and remain close friends.

– Marshall apparently intends to wear number 5 – his college number – for the Bucks, after wearing 12 for both Phoenix and Los Angeles. Per Basketball-Reference, 5 is the second-most common number in Bucks history (in terms of individual players who’ve worn it). Ironically, 12 is the most popular.

– Sidenote: Eddie House wore number 5 during his five-game stint with the Bucks in 2004-05. Eddie House played for the Bucks?

– In 2011-12, Marshall averaged 9.8 assists per game as a sophomore at North Carolina, just 0.1 behind NCAA-leader Scott Machado. Only one player from a major conference has led the nation in assists since 1999-00: T.J. Ford. Marshall went on to win the Bob Cousy award.