Kendall Marshall, a forgotten Lakers favorite

Kendall Marshall
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kendall Marshall is one of my favorite Los Angeles Lakers of all-time. It’s not because he was some world-beater. Neither was it any superficial reasons we use to get stuck to players. I just loved that Marshall got a shot to show the world his talent on basketball’s biggest stage in Staples Center. Before we had fan-favorites like Alex Caruso, we had the man known as K-Butta.

Marshall’s basketball bloodline has always been strong. He played his high school ball at Bishop O’Connell in Virginia. The DMV has a list of notable guys including Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, and Lakers guard Quinn Cook. After graduating, he went to another basketball powerhouse at the University of North Carolina.

After two strong years at UNC, he was drafted 13th by the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Draft. He only spent a season there before he was traded to the Washington Wizards. He was immediately waived from them before playing a minute.

Marshall came to the Lakers at a time where they both needed each other. The Lakers were under a new coaching regime with Mike D’Antoni. The D’Antoni era was full of fringe roster guys that maximized their NBA abilities. Xavier Henry, Ryan Kelly, Jodie Meeks — the list goes on and on. Marshall was next-in-line to join the fold. The Lakers had been through a ring of point guards due to injury. Eventually, he was brought in on a deal to finish the year. He was thrust into the starting lineup after landing in Los Angeles. He spoke at length with on his newfound home:

I think it was a chance for a lot of guys who might have had rocky NBA careers to kind of see what they could do. Guys such as myself, Wes Johnson, Ryan Kelly and Nick are a bunch of guys that really haven’t been able to get consistent minutes during their NBA career. We’ve gotten a chance to come here and get that. So, I think it was a season for us to prove ourselves individually as well as try to get some wins along the way.

Marshall was so much fun as a passer. He had the rare combination of fundamental touch and flare. In just his fourth start, he showed the world both facets of his game and more.

In that game, he had a career-high of 20 points and 15 assists.

He followed up that performance in the next game with 17 assists, a new career-high. Much was the M.O. of Marshall in purple and gold. He had the most successful year of his career across the board. He started 45 games with averages of 8 points and 8.8 assists per game.

Sadly, Kendall Marshall only spent one magical year with the Lakers. He never experienced the fun of what it’s like to win with them. While rebuilding, he still played the game with the same joy of a winner. After he left the Lakers, he only played a few more times in the NBA. Still, he made the best of his time as a professional.

The last time I saw him play was in Lonzo Ball’s Summer League debut. He could be seen after the game giving Ball some love and a few pointers. Marshall is a basketball O.G. now, serving as Director of Recruiting at UNC. He has plenty of clout that will hopefully propel their program back forward.  Even when it doesn’t end in a ring or a hall of fame bid, we love all Lakers. Kendall Marshall is no different. The game loves him and he loves it back.

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