As the Los Angeles Lakers play through the final stretch of the season and continue to evaluate players, one interesting thing to watch will be the play of Kendall Marshall.
After signing with the team in December, Marshall has assumed much of the starting point guard duties with Steve Nash out for most of the year and injuries plaguing the team’s backcourt. The 22-year-old in his first 16 starts for Los Angeles was playing at a high level as he was averaging 11.9 points and 11.5 assists per game.
Marshall has hit a lull offensively as he has not scored in double figures since Feb. 19 against the Houston Rockets and has also gone scoreless in five out of the last 12 games. But with that said, the second-year guard’s assist totals have continued to stay up despite his offensive struggles as he has five contests of double digit assists outputs in the last 12 games and has only failed to reach seven assists in two games.
Although Marshall has been able to maintain solid production as the team’s starting point guard, his minutes have seemingly continued to decline as he has not played for more than 30 minutes in the last 12 games. This occurrence has coincided with head coach Mike D’Antoni decision to use Jordan Farmar more as he has played in at least 20 minutes in each of the last 13 games.
Granted a chunk of these games have come with the Lakers suffering blowout defeats, it is nonetheless something to note moving forward as D’Antoni appears to be favoring Farmar over Marshall in the second half and crucial moments of games. It had also gotten to a point where D’Antoni was possibly considering starting Farmar after the Lakers’ 132-125 loss on March 4 to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Since D’Antoni has made the decision to increase Farmar’s minutes his offensive production has benefited from it as he has scored in double figures six times in the last 12 games that include three 20-plus point outputs and career-high 30 points on Feb. 28 in the Lakers’ 126-122 win over the Sacramento Kings.
So moving forward through the final 16 games of the season, the playing time situation at point guard between Farmar and Marshall will certainly be something to watch for plenty of reasons. For Farmar, his future with Los Angeles will be decided this upcoming offseason as he is a free agent.
He appears to desire a return to the team, but at what cost? The 26-year-0ld last offseason took a significant pay cut to sign with the team as he was hoping to use this season to position himself for a big payday this upcoming Summer. But for Farmar it has been anything but what he had expected as he has experienced a roller coaster-type season that included missing 27 games due to two separate tears in his left hamstring.
The injuries to Farmar could be a benefit to the Lakers as it may keep the asking price down for the six-year veteran. However, things could change over the final stretch portion of the regular season.
As for Marshall, he is signed through the 2014-15 season which gives him a chance to once again compete for significant playing time. Although he is under contract for next year, Marshall’s position on the team is anything but guaranteed if the Lakers do retain either Nash or Farmar.
In particular, Nash may be Marshall’s biggest concern in regards for playing time as the 18-year veteran started all 10 of the games this season that he played in. So if Los Angeles does keep Nash, this could mean that the 40-year-old point guard (if healthy) would assume starting point guard duties once again, and if Los Angeles keeps D’Antoni as the head coach next season it would seem to lean much heavier in that direction.
But with that said, there is still plenty of time from now to the offseason as a lot of things can change. All in all, heading forward the Lakers point guard situation will be something to watch closely.
Photo Credit: Bill Baptist/Getty Images