The difference in fortunes of draft lottery prospects is always interesting to see. Some come into the NBA and adapt right away; some find it difficult and have to make do with limited minutes. Only a very few end up without a team after their first season.
Kendall Marshall – drafted 13th in the 2012 NBA Draft – is one of those very few. The former North Carolina point guard was cut by the Washington Wizards after being traded from the Phoenix Suns.
Marshall has attempted to make his way back into the NBA via the D-League. The Philadelphia 76ers’ affiliate team, the Delaware 87ers, have been handed the young point guard in an attempt to ready him for the NBA and a possible call up to the Sixers roster.
The move is very typical of Sam Hinkie. He takes flyers on lottery picks that may have gone to the wrong team, but may still have a high ceiling. Essentially, he buys low and sees if they work out. If they do, it is a bonus and a real coup. And even if they don’t, you haven’t given any assets away to land the player. We saw it with Royce White and Tony Wroten.
The former Tar Heel could be the perfect backup for Michael Carter-Williams for a number of reasons. Firstly, he plays a very similar game offensively. Not looking to be a scorer primarily, Marshall can run the pick-and-roll well and sees the floor fantastically. While he didn’t put it all together in Phoenix, he’s still young enough at 22 to turn it around a possibly make a real difference.
Marshall showed what he is all about in his debut for the Delaware 87ers: 31 points (11-18 FG, 5-9 3PT, 4-6 FT), 10 assists, 9 rebounds and 2 steals. And while he won’t produce that every game, it is a good sign and looks a very Michael Carter-Williams-type line. He fills the stat-sheet.
The value of a backup point guard is sometime underrated by NBA teams. The Sixers, for example, haven’t really been able to have someone running the point consistenly off the bench for a number of years. Lou Williams was kind of that guy for Philly, but even he was a combo guard. All great teams – and that’s what the 76ers want to be one day – have good backup point guards. Miami have Norris Cole; Oklahoma City have Reggie Jackson; the Bulls have Kirk Hinrich. Polishing the rough diamond that is Kendall Marshall in the D-League could provide Philadelphia with their own incarnation of these backup point guards and along with Michael Carter-Williams, solidify the point guard position for the next 10 years.
And if it doesn’t work out, the Sixers haven’t lost anything. It’s another can’t lose move by impressive executive Sam Hinkie.