Kendall Marshall proves NBA talent in return to Phoenix

Posted by on January 16th, 12:24 am

PHOENIX — It’s not uncommon that a first-round draft pick takes some career bruises as a green NBA player.

Phoenix Suns guard Gerald Green was out of the league after four quiet NBA seasons but led Phoenix with 28 points in its 121-114 win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. Channing Frye added 20 points for Phoenix, and the eighth overall pick from 2005 had gone through a similar ordeal after the Knicks traded him to the Portland Trail Blazers after two seasons in the Big Apple. Likewise, Suns center Miles Plumlee saw the Pacers ship him off after a season and 55 minutes of game action.

And then there’s Kendall Marshall, the former Suns lottery pick who made his U.S. Airways return as a starter for the injury-plagued Lakers on Wednesday.

“I mean, it’s a business,” Marshall said. “I just happened to go through it a lot earlier than a lot of other people.”

It’s true, but in the second-year point guard’s case, such a humbling experience came with a much stronger message. He wasn’t traded for a player who could contribute now, as was Frye for Zach Randolph or Plumlee for Luis Scola. It wasn’t a fizzle-out like Green, who didn’t improve enough with multiple teams. Marshall was shipped off when Ish Smith looked like a better role player for the Suns, and on top of it all, he was dumped by a Washington Wizards team that’s currently wishing for a backup to John Wall.

Two teams didn’t want him badly enough where they wouldn’t even stick him on the end of the bench.

“Of course there’s doubt,” Marshall said of his thought process after being waived by Washington. “You’re out the league after one year after being a lottery pick. Of course you’re questioning yourself. But I think that lasted a whole two days. Once I got back on the court and started working out, it was focusing on the future.”

Question why exactly the Suns and Wizards wanted no part of the North Carolina product, who has obvious flaws on the court but always was an NBA player in potential.

But it’s not Marshall’s fault he was drafted in the lottery.

It’s not his fault he was picked by a Phoenix team with a questionable front office. Nor is it his fault that he only saw playing time under an interim head coach who couldn’t coax much out of anyone other Goran Dragic and P.J. Tucker, two effort players who would fight for Lindsey Hunter’s FatHead.

In the Lakers’ loss, Marshall finished with 10 points and 13 assists against his former team. He was picked on as a mismatch whether it was Dragic blazing by him or Green shooting jumpers over him in the post.

Instead of wondering why the Suns didn’t like Marshall, maybe wonder why the Suns never saw him willingly crank up 16 shots and play with an aggression that, no matter how much slimmer he is, was impressive.

“We saw him improve over the summer,” said Suns coach Jeff Hornacek. “One thing that the guys asked of him when he was coming back is ‘work on your shooting and work on your quickness.’ I think he’s done both of those. I think the added quickness has added the little separation from guys in pick-and-rolls, he’s able to create some space and make some passes.”

That we already knew. Hate on Marshall however you like, but at least give him his due. He’s not giving up on his future.

The shooting in his Phoenix return was still iffy, however. Marshall still struggled to finish at the basket, and his jumper was spotty. After knocking down his second three of the game to give Los Angeles a 56-43 lead late in the second quarter, it went a little downhill.

In the third quarter, it was the Suns’ Green, another former first-round pick who was once out of the NBA, who pushed Phoenix past Marshall’ troubled Lakers. Green said he’d let his team down on Monday by shooting 2-for-16 from the field against the New York Knicks. He just wanted to make up for it.

“Even if I had been 4-for-16 (against the Knicks), we win the game, even though that’s a horrible, horrible shooting game,” Green said, ironically quoting Marshall’s shooting accuracy for Wednesday.

Another piece of irony was that Green got hot with Marshall guarding him as the Lakers attempted to keep the point guard away from the speedy Dragic, who scored 18 points to go with 10 rebounds and eight assists.

The end product was an end to a three-game losing skid where the Suns couldn’t close out close games on the road.

“The positive thing about losing those games – even though there’s nothing really positive coming out of losing – is we was in the game,” Green said. “We had a chance to win all those games. It was something we did, the reason why we lost. We were the ones that made a mistake and we could fix that.”

The Lakers couldn’t fix much defensively, just as they haven’t in their six straight losses. But like Kendall Marshall, they’re at least deserving of the NBA logo on their jerseys.

Nick Young gets ejected

Lakers guard Nick Young pulled what Markieff Morris had done on Monday. With a limited roster, Young got himself ejected in the first half of a tight game.

While Morris went off for 24 points, seven boards and four assists to make up for his early exit a game prior, Young got whacked in the face by Suns rookie Alex Len. Then, he lost his cool. Young stood up and found himself in a shoving match with several Suns, including Len and the Morris twins. When Goran Dragic tried to move Young away from the Phoenix players, Swaggy P got a little too close to the swagger of Muhammad Ali — at least for the game of basketball.

“I got caught up in the moment like anyone would,” Young said. “It was a tough foul. What I’m mad about is it was one on five, I felt like, and if somebody would have gotten in the middle, it wouldn’t have escalated that much.

“I feel bad for Dragic,” he added. “He was the last person right there and I didn’t throw I punch. I was trying to shove people out of the way. I didn’t try to push Dragic, he’s my guy. I feel bad for that.”

Asked after the game about his teammates’ reaction, Kendall Marshall gave a quote that by this moment has already made its rounds within the Los Angeles media.

“I think Nick kind of saw what he wanted to see at the time,” Marshall said. “Obviously, like I said, you got to understand we got seven guys, so maybe at that point in time you just got to chill out.”

Meanwhile, Len could receive a bit more help from his teammates. Not only did they come to his side during the skirmish.

“I hate for that to happen to the rookie, Len,” Green said. “I don’t think that was intentional. I hope the NBA don’t do anything, but if it does, I’ll take care of it.”

Kevin Zimmerman is the lead blogger and editor for Valley of the Suns. He is also editor of AZDesertSwarm.com, an Arizona Wildcats\’ blog, and a contributor at SB Nation and Pac-12.com.

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Tags: Kendall Marshall · Los Angeles Lakers · Phoenix Suns Analysis

23 responses so far ↓

  • 1 foreveris2long // Jan 16, 2014 at 3:41 am

    Zimm, I think K. Marshall deserves some credit for not sulking and working to improve. He deserves an end of the bench spot on a roster. His flaws however remain as evident as ever. He shot 25% from the field last night and was destroyed defensively by anyone he guarded. He is effective offensively when defenders give him a shot like Green did in the 1st half when he doubled down low. When the Suns tightened the defense with Dragic, he fell apart.

    One defensive play is Smith burned him so bad the Lakers announcing team criticized Marshall’s defense. It is not a mystery that I believe in their last 10 games the Lakers have allowed their opponent to score at least 110 points a game while Marshall played considerable minutes.

    I cannot speak for anyone else but I still prefer Smith who is a 3rd string point guard over Marshall. However as I think you accurately stated it is not Marshall’s fault he was a lottery pick. Has anyone seen Blanks?

  • 2 foreveris2long // Jan 16, 2014 at 3:44 am

    Oops meant to say “was” not “is” in the 2nd paragraph. Let me go back to sleep.

  • 3 the real al // Jan 16, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Give his due, Blah blah BLAH! …Point is Kendal Marshall is still a scrub.. Plain and simple!

  • 4 sunsn7 // Jan 16, 2014 at 7:58 am

    From all accounts, Marshall’s biggest problem seems to be his approach to the game or a sense of entitlement. Perhaps he’s buying in to the hype being provided by his entourage?

    Anyhow that was a wasted 1st rounder for the Suns. Look forward to the Mavs in town tomorrow night.

  • 5 SOUTHPHILLY // Jan 16, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Marshall will always be a mediocre player. Love the rumor that we may get Young from the 76ers. I would like to trade the Morris brothers plus Bledsoe and get Young and their point guard.I know everyone is going to balk at trading Bledsoe,but he has shown to be very injury prone and a contract problem, The 76ers point wants out and he is a stud. great TRADE FOR BOTH TEAMS.

  • 6 phxfaninla // Jan 16, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Maybe send the lakers pick and marcus morris and okafors contract for t young. He is playing great bball as of late

  • 7 john // Jan 16, 2014 at 8:43 am

    First things first. I don’t like Kendall Marshall. He seems like an entitled jerk who doesn’t care about basketball all that much. He doesn’t seem like a winner. I think he was a bad lottery pick.

    That said, those of you saying he’s a scrub and he’s no good… He’s posting a near-average PER, his AST% is through the roof, his TS% has jumped 10% this year to a respectable 55%, and he’s averaging 10/9/4 in the best league in the world.

    He’s not a terrible player. He’s the type of guy who will at the very least be a solid backup PG for a decade in this league, and he could potentially blossom into a starter if he ever got a shot.

    Like I said, I don’t like him, but he’s not THAT bad at basketball.

  • 8 john // Jan 16, 2014 at 8:44 am

    And btw, most of you who have posted on this thread before me aren’t the guys I’m really talking to. Pretty much everyone above me had very reasonable stances on Marshall, so I’m not trying to pick a fight over nothing. I’m more talking about the types of things I’ve read in the comment sections of the past.

  • 9 Dave:f32 // Jan 16, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Kendall Marshall is an arrogant, smug, cheap (he didnt tip out his waiter/waitress on a recent restaurant visit, then had the nerve to write “Nah” next to “Tip” and circled it then took a photo and posted it on Twitwitr) bastard, self-centered, a terrible teammate (he didnt have his guys back?! Really?) and a SCRUB, waste of a 1st Round pick AND it took 5 players to fall to injury BEFORE he was a “starter”, if you want to call him that. I liken him to a temporary “fill-in ” until those injured players come back. And if that doesn’t say it enough for you that KENDALL MARSHALL IS A SCRUB! I really dont care haha ;)

    What about the Twins playing Good Cop, Bad Cop during the scuffle. Both in NY face, while Marcus was pushing Nick, Markieff was pleading for peace! Haha i thought that was classic. It might have confused Nick Young Lol :)

  • 10 Solarion // Jan 16, 2014 at 9:33 am

    The kid has always had great court vision and passing abilities. But that doesn’t make a great PG. So, he’ll have some great highlights threading the needle on some passes, but eventually the lack of a total game will catch up to him.

  • 11 Dave:f32 // Jan 16, 2014 at 9:42 am

    And whats up with Kendall Marshall begging Kobe to follow Ken-Doll on Twitter? Dude, get the message: Black Mamba doesn’t pay you no mind! He just might fight you in practice after he sat there and watched you punk out and not defend, at the very least break it up like Goran tried to, your fellow teammates on the road! Punk

  • 12 Auggie // Jan 16, 2014 at 11:22 am

    @ SOUTHPHILLY,

    If you are talking about MCW, I like that trade!

  • 13 NOitall // Jan 16, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    A lot of people state that Marshall is arrogant, entitled and a bad teammate. What I would like to know is what actual evidence they are using to formulate that opinion. Is it simply from someone in the media portraying him that way, or is it actual observed behavior from Marshall that you are drawing upon to conclude these things.

    Personally, They guy I watched at UNC [every game he played] was a great teammate, a great leader and was impactful. I know that doesn’t always translate to the NBA, but to say that he isn’t a winner because he did not perform well on a really bad team [both bad in ability and terribly formed] with really terrible coaching and a lot of turmoil, is a bit unfair.

    Marshall has performed fairly well under tough circumstances in LA. Most of the talent on that team is injured, leaving him to head up a talent-less group that would normally be relegated to bench minutes.

    In the 9 games in which he actually has received minutes, Marshall is averaging 11.8 Pts and 10.6 assists, shooting 43% from the field and from 3pt line. And that includes last night’s horrible shooting. To me, if those numbers hold, he clearly should be in the running for most improved player and for a guy in his second season, he is showing he belongs in the league. And with those numbers, he is also showing that being picked 13th was about right.

  • 14 NOitall // Jan 16, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Trading Bledsoe for MCW completely changes the makeup of what works between Dragic and Bledsoe.

    Granted, if Bledsoe remains injury prone,trading him for MCW would be a good thing. However, the reason our backcourt is so effective is that Both players not only can play on the ball and create/score, but both can play off the ball and are willing teammates and not necessarily ball-stopping offensive players. Additionally, both are very good defenders.

    MCW is a ball dominating guy who can score, dish and rebound, no doubt. However, he is a worse shooter than Kendall Marshall, and cannot play off the ball, at all. He also is a below average defender [105 deff].

    If Bledsoe is healthy, he is a much better player and a much better mix with Dragic.

  • 15 Touche Tom // Jan 16, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    “A lot of people state that Marshall is arrogant, entitled and a bad teammate.”

    I couldnt agree wit you more NOitall! You may not know it all, but at least you recognize that Kandall Mashall is a douchebag! He needs to get over himself allready

  • 16 Touche Tom // Jan 16, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    “A lot of people state that Marshall is arrogant, entitled and a bad teammate.”

    I couldnt agree wit you more NOitall!

    You may not know it all, but at least you recognize that Kandall Mashall is a douchebag! He needs to get over himself allready

  • 17 john // Jan 16, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    “what actual evidence they are using to formulate that opinion?”

    This isn’t the ONLY evidence I am using to formulate my opinions about Kendall’s personality, but have you seen the man’s Twitter?

  • 18 NOitall // Jan 16, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    first of all, I try not to look at a man’s twitter.

    But no, i don’t use twitter.

  • 19 45RopeADope // Jan 16, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Kenbo Marshow is a meglomaniac! The guy is a scrub, two teams let him go because of it

  • 20 Scott // Jan 16, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    Kendall Marshall is a Laker.

    As for MCW, if the Suns got him in trade I’d move him to SG.

  • 21 Dave:f32 // Jan 17, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Wow! All the fuss over the diva known as Kendall Marshall.

    Of course he is a scrub! And yes, he has an attention-deficit disorder. If we keep talking about him, he will crave more attention. Scott’s right, he is a Laker so lets act as if he is an unmentionable. Kapeish!

  • 22 EBJM // Jan 17, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Kapeish!

    I actually crave more attention when I’m ignored.

  • 23 Bang // Jan 17, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    You guys are ridiculous..how is he a scrub..the guy has been averaging a double double in his starts this season with horrible teammates…ITS HIS SECOND SEASON nba players need time to develop especially now that pgs are all good. Rajon Rondo averaged 10 pts 6 assists as a starter his second yr . Kendall will improve as a scorer and defensively he can be GREAT mark my words. Go look at his stats his last 5 games with horrible teammates

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