The Philadelphia 76ers added to their cache of point guards by agreeing to a deal with former lottery pick Kendall Marshall on Friday. Marshall was signed to a fully guaranteed 2015-16 season, and he should be a valuable contributor for the 76ers, providing a change-of-pace between Isaiah Canaan and Tony Wroten to go along with the versatility to play alongside either of those two.
Marshall seems to be an ideal fit for head coach Brett Brown’s offense – a ball-mover and underrated three-point threat (shot above 39 percent from three the past two seasons). The rest of the Philly roster lacks shot creators and ball-movers as well, which makes this transaction make even more sense.
Philadelphia lacks players who can break down the defense either off the dribble or with the pass, and a healthy Marshall should fit the billing nicely – Marshall’s lone longest season so far was his most successful after being signed midseason during the 2013-14 campaign to the injury-ravaged Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers gave him the starting gig immediately, becoming the sixth different starter for them that season, and he proved he was capable of handling starting at point guard. Marshall avearged 8.8 assists (second in the league to Chris Paul) in 29 minutes per game while taking care of the ball enough to finish fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio.
But Marshall was part of the reason the Lakers’ locker room had issues after Nick Young retaliated to a hard foul against the Phoenix Suns in January 2014, when Marshall was caught mocking Young in a photo that went viral. This could’ve been part of the reason Marshall was released in July after the season ended, but Marshall got another chance just two days later.
The Milwaukee Bucks claimed Marshall off waivers almost immediately and the ex-North Carolina point guard appeared to be a perfect fit as a backup to Brandon Knight for Jason Kidd and a young Bucks team. Marshall earned more playing time the longer the season went on and had some solid performances before tearing his ACL on Jan. 15. He had surgery in early February and was traded to the Suns (ironically in a three-way deal which included Philadelphia) before being waived and hitting the free-agent market this summer.
Marshall won’t be ready to play for Philadelphia by the beginning of the season, but should be ready sometime within the first few months. With shooters to space the floor like Hollis Thompson, Nik Stauskas and Robert Covington combined with slashers like forwards Jerami Grant and JaKarr Sampson, look for Brett Brown to have plenty of versatility to work with. Big men Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor should be an ideal pair defensively, although spacing could hurt offensively.
It’ll be interesting to see how a healthy Kendall Marshall improves chemistry and spacing surrounded by shooters and athletic big men. Marshall’s definitely been moved around — having been waived twice, including a stint in the D-League — but his recent play as a backup in Milwaukee and starter for Los Angeles might prove that he’s here to stay. It should only translate to positive results for Marshall, who’s proved that when he’s healthy and handed the keys to a team, he can produce. I’d expect nothing less than a solid season when he suits up for Philadelphia.