Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kendall Marshall will be a star



Kendall Marshall was a lottery pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He was described as a great, albeit non-athletic, playmaker, though never saw much time on the court while on the Phoenix Suns. They got rid of him, and after a brief stint on the Wizards and in the D-League, Marshall was called up to play for the injury-depleted Los Angeles Lakers.

His first few games were nothing special. However, after the Lakers' other guards were assassinated by the Dark Brotherhood (it felt that way at least), he was given a chance to start. And boy has he delivered. During his past few weeks at the helm, Marshall has averaged more assists than anybody else in the NBA. On top of that, he's also shooting the lights out from three point range.

"But Nick," you protest, "those are just empty stats on a terrible team!" You would be mostly correct in your observation. But I counter it with my own. See, what I am looking at in Marshall is not his pure production, as nice as that is. No, what I see is his poise. He's calm, cool, and collected at all times on the court, even to a fault (see: not helping Nick Young in that "fight" against the Suns). He doesn't remind me of the daft and brainless Smush Parker; he reminds me of a floor general like Steve Nash or Chauncey Billups, both guards who were under appreciated early in their careers, much like Marshall.

Case in point, last week the Lakers faced off against the Thunder. I expected a beat-down of epic proportions. Instead, I witnessed something different. It turned into a battle of Marshall vs. Durant, with the former exploding for 14 and 17 while the latter poured in over 40 points to lead the Thunder to victory. The key, despite the loss, is that Marshall did not wilt against the team with the best record in the NBA. He showed them what he could do, dazzling defenders with Nash-esque passes while throwing in bombs from five feet behind the three point line. By the end of the game, Durant was guarding him one on one. If that isn't a sign of respect, I don't know what is. 

He never looked scared, either. That might just be his standard Vlade Divac/Ted Mosby-esque facial expression, but I doubt it. Why? Because I felt confident whenever Marshall was in the game. He demanded the ball several times from other players, and always appeared to be in control. If Marshall had a chance to rest (the Lakers had only two active guards), it is likely he would have pulled out a 20/20 performance. Pretty impressive for a guy stuck in the D-League only a few months ago.

The best part is that this kid is only 22. In NBA terms he's essentially still in diapers. The sky is the limit for him, and if he continues to work on his game he definitely has a chance at becoming one of the elite guards in the league.

Whatever you do, do not doubt Kendall Marshall. He has made it clear in previous interviews that doubting him only makes him work harder (wait...on second thought, please doubt the hell out of him). Steve Nash was never an explosive athlete, but he used expert change-of-direction, body control, and footwork to dominate the league for several years. Could Marshall, learning from the two-time MVP himself, do the same? He is well on his way, as from watching him he has already incorporated many of Nash's moves into his repertoire.

When all is said and done, I would be completely unsurprised if Marshall had a career similar to that of Nash or Billups. He has the poise, playmaking ability, and deceptively feathery touch to make it happen.

Remember in a few years that you heard it here first.

1 comment:

  1. UNC coach said Marshall" wasn't our best player , but may have been most important." I hope Marshall is a Laker for a very long time. Great find by the front office.

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