Sure, Kendall Marshall had an impressive college career and was a lottery pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, but that doesn’t mean that his journey to end up as the starter of the Lakers was all that easy.
After playing just one season in Phoenix, Marshall was traded before he could even officially being his sophomore year. The team he was moved to – the Washington Wizards – waived him instantly which lead to the 22-year-old signing up with a D-League team in Delaware.
From there, Marshall would catch a break: the Lakers were struggling from major injuries to their backcourt players and needed depth. Marshall instantly agreed to be brought on board, though he wasn’t thrust straight into minutes despite the Lakers’ lack of backcourt depth.
It would take injuries to Xavier Henry and Jordan Farmar for Marshall to get his shot, and once he was finally given the reins to this team he certainly didn’t disappoint.
In his first start for the Lake Show, Marshall set career-highs in points (20), assists (15) and rebounds (6), though it wasn’t Marshall’s exceptional box score that prompted Mike D’Antoni to compare him to Linsanity.
It was actually Marshall’s first game – where he had four turnovers in six minutes of play – that reminded D’Antoni of Jeremy Lin, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles:
[pullquote]”I’m not making a comparison, but Jeremy Lin did the exact same thing,” D’Antoni said when asked about Marshall going from coughing up four turnovers in six minutes in his Laker debut just two weeks ago to becoming the first Laker player since Kobe Bryant in February 2002 to hit the 20-point, 15-assist plateau. “The first time he went out in Boston it was awful, and I’m thinking, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Then, obviously it happened to him. It does happen to guys.”
“Linsanity” was a one-in-a-lifetime basketball supernova that was as much a cultural touchstone as it was hoop dream. “Marshall Madness” has a nice ring to it, but what’s more important than Marshall becoming a favorite in the eyes of Lakers fans is Marshall becoming a reliable option in the eyes of D’Antoni.
And that appears to be happening. Three simple compliments from the coach said way more than D’Antoni’s over-the-top Lin comparison. No. 1, “He has great vision, he sees everything;” No. 2 was, “He just played the way you’re supposed to play at point guard;” and No. 3 was, “The biggest thing I’m looking for is can he give our team a rhythm, and he did that. He should be able to do that every night.” [/pullquote]
While Lin’s story was more incredible because he came out of nowhere after going undrafted out of Harvard in 2010, there’s still a comparison to be drawn between the two players. Sure, Marshall was the more well-known player and was a high pick, though he was still discarded by two NBA teams and was forced to continue his career by playing in the D-League.
Of course, Marshall would also have to be consistent with his play in order to truly draw comparisons to Linsanity. It’ll be interesting to see if Marshall can sustain a high level of play, especially when the team heads out on their annual Grammy trip later this month.