Marshall taking pride in the ‘process’ as Bucks reserve
ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — Kendall Marshall had no idea where he fit into the mix when the Milwaukee Bucks claimed him off waivers in July.
Brandon Knight was likely to return as Milwaukee’s starting point guard, while the Bucks signed Jerryd Bayless just days after bringing Marshall over from the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I had no expectations," Marshall said. "I went into my first year in the league with expectations and saw where that got me. I kind of learned to just enjoy the process and just enjoy things as they come."
As it became clear Bayless was going to play both guard positions off Milwaukee’s bench, Marshall was left to battle with Nate Wolters for minutes behind Knight.
With Wolters expected to be waived in the near future to clear a roster spot for free-agent forward Kenyon Martin, Marshall’s role as the team’s backup point guard seems to be solidified.
"Any player is going to like what is expected of them and know when they are getting their minutes and where they are getting their minutes," Marshall said. "You are not always that fortunate. That’s part of being a professional in this league, but it is comforting knowing what is expected of you."
At this time last season, Marshall was playing close to 40 minutes per game for the depleted Los Angeles Lakers.
His playing time decreased as the Lakers became healthy, but Marshall still averaged 29.0 minutes over 54 games in Los Angeles. This year, Marshall is playing 15.5 minutes per game and averaging 4.4 points and 3.0 assists for a Bucks team surprisingly in the playoff hunt.
"Last year the ball was in my hand 80 percent of the game," Marshall said. "But when you are on a bad team it is really hard to gauge what that means."
"I want to be able to contribute on a good team, which is part of the situation here. I’m extremely happy with the situation I am in now and trying to make the most of it."
Marshall’s mindset was different when he entered the league with Phoenix as a first-round draft pick in 2012.
"You don’t realize what’s important," Marshall said. "All you think about is getting drafted high. You think you should be playing 30 minutes a game. But you have to understand the process and take pride in it.
"I still had a lot to learn about the game. I still had a lot to learn about life, really. I didn’t understand the process. To go through it that early I think was good for me because it helped me with this year during the first 10 games or so when I wasn’t touching the floor, understanding I need to still be a great teammate and be positive."
One way Bucks coach Jason Kidd has utilized Marshall’s passing ability is in the low post. As Marshall explains it, Kidd told him to go into the post during a game and it worked, so Milwaukee has kept going to it.
At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Marshall is usually bigger than the opposing point guard defending him. He’s able to see to pass out to shooters or hit teammates cutting to the basket.
"One thing Coach is big on is finding advantages that we like on the court," Marshall said. "I’m a pretty big guard, so when there’s a smaller guard he likes to take advantage of that."
One of most scrutinized aspects of Marshall’s game has been his shooting ability, primarily if he could force defenses to have to at least honor his outside shot.
Marshall is shooting 43.9 percent on the season and 36.4 percent from beyond the arc. He’s hit just 1 of his last 11 3-point attempts after shooting 44.0 percent from distance in December.
"I think I’m getting great looks," Marshall said. "A lot of them are in and out, soft misses, so I have no problem with those shots. But at the end of the day I know I’m most successful when I’m getting into the paint, whether that be finishing or creating for teammates. But you still have to keep the defense honest and take those opportunities."
While the Bucks guaranteed Marshall’s contract before the season started, nothing is promised to the 23-year-old going forward. He’ll be a free agent when the year ends, something he isn’t currently worried about.
"You look at a guy like Chauncey Billups. He was on five teams in his first (six) years," Marshall said. "Once he found a great situation he became one of the best in the league at that time.
"I think every player should think about it that way unless you are a max player. Everybody else needs to find the right fit."
So far, Marshall has been pleased with the fit in Milwaukee.
"I love it," Marshall said. "My big thing is no traffic. I can get to the practice facility in less than 10 minutes. That’s a dream for me. I love that it is a laid-back city. We are just starting to get some snow, which is something I don’t really have a problem with. I love being in Milwaukee.
"I don’t think we have any bad guys on this team. We have a lot of guys around the same age, which makes it a lot easier. We enjoy playing together. We don’t have any selfish guys. It is a fun team to be on right now."
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