After being selected with the 13th overall pick in 2012 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns, Kendall Marshall's NBA career has proven anything but typical. Two years into his career, he's already been a member of four teams, been waived twice and finished second in the league in assists per game. Still, the ups and downs of his early career have helped him become a more productive and confident NBA player, one who hopes to find a more permanent home in Milwaukee.
Marshall went through a one-and-done season with the Suns during 2012-13, averaging 3.0 points and 3.0 assists in just 48 games for Phoenix. After one disappointing season, the arrival of Eric Bledsoe, Jeff Hornacek and Ryan McDonough in Phoenix would end Marshall's time in the desert after just a season, as Phoenix shipped him to Washington in the deal that sent Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown,and Malcolm Lee to in October 2013.
Three days later, the Wizards waived him.
Even with his NBA future looking dim, Marshall stayed composed and focused on the one thing he wanted to do: Play basketball. So shortly after being waived by Washington, his agent presented him with an opportunity to play major minutes with the 76ers. Except not those Sixers, but the Delaware 87ers. Not even 18 months after Phoenix made him a lottery pick, Marshall found himself in the NBA Development League.
Marshall immediately found his rhythm in Delaware, posting 19.4 points and 9.6 assists per game while hoping for a call from an NBA team. Fortunately for Marshall, he didn't have to wait too long. With Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake all dealing with injuries last December, the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves seriously short on point guard depth. That left Mike D'Antoni's squad with a major void, providing the former North Carolina Tar Heel a chance to prove himself once again.
"I hate to see guys go down but, when you have guys like Nash, Farmar, Blake that get injured, it opened up an opportunity for me to show what I was able to do." Marshall said Monday afternoon.
Marshall went on to play the best basketball of his career in Los Angeles last season. In just his fourth game with the Lakers, he posted a career-high 20 points while distributing 15 assists in a win against the Utah Jazz. In 54 contests, he dished out roughly nine assists per game, trailing only the Clippers' Chris Paul. Only two players averaged eight assists per game while shooting 39 percent or better on threes last season. Marshall was one of those players alongside sharp shooter Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
"Biggest difference between Phoenix and L.A. was definitely the opportunity." Marshall explained. "I think I grew as a player too from one year to the next. I think as a 21-year-old rookie you're still learning, the NBA was still new to me. You're going to have your bumps in the road, and to get that year under my belt and understand what's expected of me and the ways that I can contribute, it made that second year a lot easier."
So what was the problem for Marshall's struggles early on in his career?
"It was 80 percent confidence," he said, "to just go out there and take the shots and not worry about missing ... that's one thing that kind of weighed on me throughout college and my first year in the league. I was so scared to miss, but now, when you've seen the bottom, you kind of have nothing to lose at the point and just go out there and play.
"I think everything I've been through ... it's kind of put me in a mindset to not be afraid to fail. Now I can just go out there and play and not be scared to make mistakes, so that's the main thing I've taken from my journey so far."
His impressive bounce-back year with the Lakers came to an unfortunate end this off-season. Los Angeles waived Marshall with the hopes of re-signing him to a new deal, but unfortunately for them, the Bucks claimed him immediately and he became their newest backcourt addition.
"The journey's been crazy, it's been unexpected," Marshall explained, "it's been a lot of turns, but it makes me very grateful and thankful to be in this situation and still play basketball for a living."
Marshall figures to share minutes with incumbent starter Brandon Knight and second-year guard Nate Wolters, and veteran Jerryd Bayless. He'll also be reunited with one of his best friends and former Chapel Hill teammates, John Henson.
"To land in Milwaukee I think has been a blessing in the disguise. I see an opportunity here to be able to grow with the team so that's my main goal. To just take advantage of this opportunity and contribute the best way I can.
"I'm extremely excited about playing with John again," Marshall said, "I think we both bring a lot to the table and I think when you're best friends off the court it makes it a lot easier to play for each other on the court. I think that's something we can develop throughout the entire team. We've got a great locker room right now and I think it'll be a very fun year."
With his third season in the NBA approaching, Marshall is no longer slowed down by small distractions.
"Now I can just go out there and play and not be scared to make mistakes so that's the main thing that I've taken from my journey so far."