Sports Out West

Lakers’ Kendall Marshall letting prime opportunity slip away

Kendall Marshall

With the Los Angeles Lakers’ backcourt experiencing an influx of injuries,it would lead one to think that point guard Kendall Marshall would strive in this prime opportunity.

That is not the case.

Marshall has been the Lakers’ starting point guard for much of the season with Steve Nash missing all but 12 games due to nerve irritation in his left leg and back, and Jordan Farmar out 36 games because of  injuries to both hamstring and his right groin. In that role, it has been nothing short than a roller coaster ride for Los Angeles with the second-year guard.

After getting his first start with the team on Jan. 3 against the Utah Jazz, Marshall appeared to be diamond in the rough with his average of 11.9 points and 11.5 assists per game for the month of January.This included recording double digit assist totals in 11 out of the 15 games played, totaling at least six assists in each contest, and having a string of five straight double-doubles from Jan.10-19.

However, the 22-year-old’s level of play dropped off a bit in February as he averaged 7.1 points and 9.0 assists, but he did manage to have impressive back-to-back double-doubles of at least 16 assists recorded.

Although his assists totals remained high, his scoring began to dip in the latter portion of the month as he has had one double digit point output in the last 18 games since Feb. 21. This also entails five contests where he did not score a single point.

His scoring struggles on the court have led head coach Mike D’Antoni to reducing his minutes over the past month as he is averaging 24.8 in March. D’Antoni has instead given more minutes to other players such as Xavier Henry, Kent Bazemore, and even went to bringing back Nash to help shoulder the load in the backcourt despite declaring him out for the remainder of the season earlier in the month.

His struggles came to a head in Friday’s 143-107 blowout loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves as he had 0 points on 0-for-6 shooting with three assists and two turnovers in 15 minutes played.

To put it plain and simple, Marshall has not progressed as a point guard but rather regressed over time with his opportunity to prove that he could be the Lakers’ point guard of the future. He is under contract through the 2014-15 season, but that does necessarily mean that he will have significant playing time because he is on team.

Marshall’s chance to show the team that he deserves more playing time appears to be dwindling down with Farmar likely to return within the next week and Nash continuing to play in games here and there as his health permits him to do so.

The 22-year-old signed with the Lakers in December and showcased for the first month that he had promising potential, now he must start displaying some improvement by getting out of his offensive slump because the clock is ticking on the season and likely on his opportunity to play in a significant role in the team’s future plan.

Photo Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

Watch below highlights from Marshall’s impressive 20-point and 15-assist night against the Jazz on Jan. 3:

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia is a sports journalist from Southern California. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.
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  • Delyce22

    I have always been a
    big Marshall fan since his sophomore year at UNC and prayed that he would start
    out good with his pro career. In Phoenix he did not get a fair shot to
    show what he could really do as he did with the Lakers. With that being
    said he has had a good shot with the Lakers an initially it looked like with
    the numbers he was putting up he was a sure fire bet to be the Lakers PG of the
    future. But after watching him play the last two months I am not so sure
    he is their PG of the future especially with this year’s draft class. At
    the PG position you have the ball in your hands most of the time so you have to
    be able to score consistently and this is not something Marshall has been able
    to do in the last two months. Also his defense is almost non-existent.
    Time and time again he cannot stop the ball out front and lets the
    opposing PG go right to the rim or pass off to an open teammate once he is
    below the foul line. Right now he is a total liability on defense and is
    becoming a liability on offense as well. His contract is a team option
    for next year and because it is a cheap contract the Lakers will probably keep
    him just for next year but I don’t think he is going to get many minutes.
    I also think that he will eventually be packaged in a trade to another
    team at some point next year. I wish him the best and hope that he
    continues to work on his game and gets back to playing well.

  • Jim Martin

    You probably won’t find a bigger Kendall Marshall fan than me. Other than his family, I doubt anyone has watched him play more than me (started watching him play 11 years ago). But, I have to agree with this article. This opportunity to play for the Lakers has been his chance to show what I know he is capable of. He started strong, displaying the skills that I’ve seen many times before. But, he seems to have lost focus. I think he’s had a difficult time adjusting to all the different lineups. But, there are no excuses. This is his chance to earn the starting point guard role for the Los Angeles Lakers! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it is slowly slipping away. I really do hope he finishes the season strong, but I’m worried it may be too little, too late to earn a spot on the roster next year.