I’ve spent the last several weeks profiling the Philadelphia 76ers’ starting lineup to determine each of their long-term potential with the franchise. Now that I’ve reached their reserves, I’ll start with one of the newest Sixers who will be competing for minutes as the team’s backup point guard: Kendall Marshall.
The Sixers announced the signing of Marshall on Wednesday, and the deal is reportedly four years, with one year and $2.1 million guaranteed. The structure of the deal is no surprise considering it is yet another flexible one for president and general manager Sam Hinkie. He’ll keep Marshall around if he plays well, and the option to end his contract after this season may attract trade possibilities.
In the end, though, the biggest thing we care about is whether or not Marshall can fulfill a long-term role in Philly.
Marshall, who was the 13th pick in the 2012 draft by the Phoenix Suns after receiving the Bob Cousy award for college’s best point guard, is known as a pass-first point guard with a high basketball IQ and long-range shooting ability, albeit with limited athleticism. Like Tony Wroten, who’s slated to be the Sixers’ starting point guard this season, Marshall is also coming off an ACL injury, though he’s not expected to return until sometime in the first half of the season. Interestingly, Marshall’s game is the opposite of Wroten’s, a player who’s more known for his athleticism and relentless penetration.
Marshall’s best season came a couple years ago with the Los Angeles Lakers. Playing for coach Mike D’Antoni, Marshall was signed in the middle of the season and started 45 games at point guard for the injury-decimated Lakers, averaging 8.0 points and 8.8 assists while only committing 2.8 turnovers per game. The 6-4, 200-pounder also shot nearly 40 percent from 3-point range. His numbers from that season, however, while impressive in the assists category, shouldn’t be taken as seriously when considering D’Antoni’s offense caters to its point guards in its seven-seconds-or-less style of play. Last season, he played 28 games for the Milwaukee Bucks before his ACL tear, averaging about four points and three assists as their backup point guard, playing about 15 minutes per game.
In the 2012-13 season, he played seven games for the Sixers’ Developmental League team, the Delaware 87ers, and averaged 19 points and 10 assists per game.
Considering he’ll battle Isaiah Cannan and Pierre Jackson for playing time, I wouldn’t be surprised if we barely see him play, though the Sixers will surely give him a shot, as it makes sense for teams to see what they have in every player when they’re rebuilding. I could also see him take over as the team’s first point guard off the bench. His strengths complement areas in which the Sixers lack, but his talent is still questionable. He can provide depth as a backup point guard if he proves to have a high assist-to-turnover ratio with strong outside shooting, and if he plays effectively while making few mistakes, he could be a backup point guard on a winning team. Just don’t expect anything more.