When the Los Angeles Lakers signed Kendall Marshall in December, they were desperate for a point guard. Both Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar were out with injuries, and Kobe Bryant who was forced into running the floor for a few games, was out again with a knee fracture. Xavier Henry, who had not run the point since his adolescent years, had no choice but to handle the ball.
In his first couple games with the Lakers, Marshall played garbage minutes while learning the offense and showing head coach Mike D’Antoni his talents. By just his third game, and mostly due to necessity as Xavier Henry went down with a bone bruise, Marshall had found his way into the rotation.
Even upon Jordan Farmar’s second return mid-February, Marshall secured his starting spot. Even more telling, D’Antoni has recently decided to finish games with the young sophomore. In the Lakers win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday afternoon, Marshall was chosen over Farmar to finish the game. According to D’Antoni, though Farmar’s the better shooter, Marshall’s ability to run the team and create better shots for other players is giving him the knock up over Farmar:
I thought Jordan did have a good game. I thought he shot the ball well. I think Kendall runs a team pretty well,” D’Antoni said after the Lakers win over the Thunder on Sunday. “He settles us down to give the team a little bit better chance to score.”
In 27 games as a starter this season, Marshall has averaged 8.9 points and 10.9 assists, handing out double-digit assists in 18 of those games. Marshall’s had eight games of 14+ assists, tied with Chris Paul for the league-lead. Plus, in just 36 games, he’s had 12 games of points/assists double-doubles, 7th most in the NBA.
Marshall has deserved his spot in the rotation, and there’s still plenty of room for Farmar, who has voiced his desire to get more minutes. In 11 games since Farmar’s mid-February return, though Marshall has remained the starter, Farmar is still averaging a little over 23 minutes per game. Farmar even had a career-high performance against Sacramento on February 28th with 30 points on a career-best eight three-pointers (on just 10 attempts).
With 16 games left in the Lakers season, D’Antoni could switch things up and start Farmar, but Marshall has earned the responsibility of starting and, now, finishing games.
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