The point guard position has been like a revolving door of injuries for the Los Angeles Lakers over the 2013-14 NBA season. After the latest victim, Jordan Farmar, went down with an injury, though, that left second-year guard Kendall Marshall—who started this year in the D-League—as the starter on Friday night as the Lakers took on the Utah Jazz.
In limited action with the Lakers prior to Friday night, Marshall had been solid. However, after a relatively disappointing rookie year with the Phoenix Suns last season, there was warranted skepticism about how he would perform as the floor-general for the Lakers, even against the lowly Jazz.
However, Marshall came out and shined in his first start with L.A. Playing a daunting but necessary 41 minutes in the contest, Marshall put up 20 points, 15 assists and six rebounds while shooting 8-12 from the floor and 2-3 from long-range en route to a 110-99 victory for the Lakers. Marshall was attacking, facilitating, and even scoring well in this game and looked impressive.
Two things that really stood out about Marshall’s play on Friday were his composure and his scoring ability. In terms of composure, he often looked bewildered in Phoenix as a rookie and seemed overwhelmed by the pro game. He looked much more in control and calm on the floor for the Lakers on Friday. As far as his scoring goes, his lack of finishing and shooting ability was one of the knocks on him coming out of college and something that surfaced in his first NBA season. However, he was able to get to the rim and finish quite nicely on Friday and his jumper looked much more reliable and confident than it did last season as well.
You have to take Marshall’s performance on Friday with a grain of salt, though. The Jazz are the worst defensive team in the NBA, allowing 107.8 points per 100 possessions. For an NBA player to have a big game against Utah isn’t all that uncommon because they have a hard time stopping just about anyone.
What you have to like about this game and Marshall’s performance, though, is that he’s clearly worked on his weaknesses over the offseason and while in the D-League. He’ll more than likely have more hardships as the level of competition increases, but it does seem as if he’s on track to make his mark on this Lakers season and help himself stick around in the NBA.