Following his team's disappointing effort on Tuesday, Jason Kidd hinted at possible changes to the Bucks' starting lineup. And you can't blame him: The Bucks' defense has been inconsistent at best, O.J. Mayo has been struggling mightily, and the frontcourt rotation has been dealing with one injury after another. No matter what lineup we saw tonight in Atlanta, there figured to be more changes in store as the team gets healthier heading into the New Year.
But while the frontcourt figures to be a triage situation for the time being, I'd argue that a more proactive approach to the Bucks' crowded backcourt could also pay dividends. So on Thursday night I wondered aloud if a twin point guard approach featuring Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall might be worth a try, and this afternoon we looked at some of the Bucks' backcourt options in greater detail.
Ask and ye shall receive?
I liked addition of Mayo to starting 5, but his long slump makes me feel like you have to consider a change. How about Marshall?— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) December 25, 2014
Kendall Marshall joins Bucks starting lineup and O.J. Mayo will come off bench. Giannis, Zaza Pachulia, O'Bryant and Knight also start.— cfgardner (@cf_gardner) December 26, 2014
Marshall's combination of size, passing and spot-up shooting (44.1% from deep) offering an interesting change of pace to Knight, a topic we covered in our story earlier today about the options Kidd has in the backcourt.
Among the other guards, Jerryd Bayless can play either backcourt spot and has served as a nice pressure release guy off the bench all season, but it's difficult to view him as a potential long-term answer next to Knight. And Kendall Marshall's passing and spot-up ability from deep might make him the most intriguing option next to Knight, though his lack of footspeed could be a problem defensively. Of the three, only Marshall has managed to post a positive two-man pairing with Knight in raw plus-minus terms, though their impressive +14.2 pts/100 possessions has come in a fairly limited sample of just 49 minutes (via NBA.com).
Is Marshall a lock to work with Knight? No, certainly not. His defensive limitations will be worth keeping an eye on (especially vs. Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague tonight), and finding the right balance between Knight's scoring and Marshall's playmaking may not happen right away...if at all. But Marshall's tendency to make plays for others gives the Bucks a pick-and-roll playmaking dimension they didn't have with Knight and Mayo, and at this point there's no harm in giving a longer look to a backcourt combination that has worked well in a more limited sample.