At every stop in his young career, Kendall Marshall faced minor setbacks and like a cat, he landed on his feet.
Selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns, Marshall didn’t get a lions share of minutes. In his rookie year, he found himself splitting time between the Suns and Bakersfield Jam of the NBA’s D-League.
Phoenix traded Marshall to the Washington Wizards in the fall along with the rights to Marcin Gortat and Shannon Brown. Phoenix picked up Emeka Okafor and a 2014 first-round draft pick in the deal. A native of northern Virginia, he’d get a chance to play for his hometown Wizards team. No such luck! The Wizards waived Marshall three days after the trade.
Marshall found his way back to the D-League, suiting up for the Delaware 87ers. In his debut with the 87ers, Marshall dropped 31 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals in the contest.
He wasn’t in Delaware long!
A journeyman in his young career, Marshall signed a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, a team decimated by injuries this season. Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar, Steve Blake and Xavier Henry missed a ton of games due to injury. That left Marshall with a ton of playing time and ushered in the opportunity to run the Lake Show under Coach Mike D’Antoni.
This season, Marshall became the first Laker to deliver at least 20 points and 15 assists in a game against the Utah Jazz. The last Laker to accomplish that feat is Marshall’s current teammate Kobe Bryant, who did it 12 years earlier.
Check out highlights from that game here:
Marshall caught up with The Source and discussed his journey. Check it out:
The Source: Kendall, folks have often compared your NBA journey to Jeremy Lin. You’ve both played in the NBA D-League and under Mike D’Antoni. How flattering is that and is there a comparison?
Kendall Marshall: As far as situation goes, I think there is a comparison. I think we both didn’t get a fair shake to start our careers. We finally got an opportunity and took advantage of it. I think we sort of had different starts but there are definitely some similarities.
The Source: The Lakers struggled this year and were hit hard by injuries. Guys like yourself, Nick Young and Xavier Henry have developed a young Lakers nucleus. With all of that said, what do you make of this season?
Kendall Marshall: 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. It’s been tough for guys like Kobe and Nash and Pau being out. They’re three guys we expect to lean on and be our best players, who haven’t really been able to play. I think sometimes people forget that and see the name on the chest and expect the Lakers to win a lot more games.
The Source: You’ve bounced around the NBA and the D-League a little bit. What have you learned along the way?
Kendall Marshall: I’ve learned that it’s a business. You can’t take anything for granted. Sometimes it’s not what you do on the court, but rather what the team is trying to do and the future moves they’re trying to make. So, really you can’t get caught up in trying to predict your own future. All you can worry about is what you’re doing on the court, that’s the main thing. What I’ve learned is only worry about what you can control.
The Source: What is it about Coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense that has made you so successful?
Kendall Marshall: We play at a high pace and we like to get up and down the floor. I really get to utilize my passing ability and the full court—that’s something that’s been beneficial for me. The pace that we play at and the ability to get guys shots.
The Source: While growing up you’ve watched Kobe play ball and now you’re teammates. What three things did you learn about him as a teammate that you didn’t know before?
Kendall Marshall: Well for one, you see a superstar and you expect him to be different and standoffish. But when he’s with the team and on the flights, he’s just one of the guys. That’s something that I can appreciate. I don’t know that there’s a lot of superstars that are like that. Also, being around the team, the coaching staff and the trainers, you hear about his work ethic, you hear stories. That’s not something that I was familiar with. But to see it or hear it first hand, that’s something that I appreciated. Last but not least, his straightforward approach. He always says what he feels. That’s something that I appreciate. You don’t want somebody to sugarcoat what they’re thinking.
The Source: You’re an East Coast guy. Five Guys or In and Out Burgers?
Kendall Marshall: Oh, Five Guys by far.
Kendall Marshall: In and Out fries are so trash! I don’t think they’re good at all. The only thing that I’ll give In and Out is the sauce that they put on their burgers. Five Guys burgers are a lot bigger, they make their fries with love. In and Out is so trash to me.
The Source: You signed a two-year non guaranteed deal with the Lakers. Whether they decide to keep you is up to them. What would the Lakers or any other team in the NBA be getting in a point guard such as yourself next season?
Kendall Marshall: If I do go back to the Lakers, or they do decide to go in another direction or I get picked up by somebody else, first and foremost, they’re getting a guy that works hard, a guy who is still hungry and trying to prove himself. They have a guy who values winning. I’m an extremely unselfish guy. I’m not a guy who’s worried about how many points I score, but would rather do what’s best for the team. I think that at this level, when you think about winning, not everybody that’s on the team is going to score 20 points a game. So I think that those things that I bring to the table are very valuable.
Check Out Kendall’s 2013-14 season highlights: