Kendall Marshall #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots before scoring a three-point shot in the final minute of the game in front of Kelly Olynyk #41 of the Boston Celtics during the game at TD Garden on January 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Since receiving a call-up from the NBA Development League, Kendall Marshall has consistently brought an intelligent ability to adapt to the LA Lakers.
On the court, Marshall grabbed the reins and played with an air of maturity that matched his bald spot, not his birth certificate. Almost immediately, the 22-year-old’s unique shooting form was called into question, but the coaches refused to alter anything during the season. They pointed out that his shot was hitting the bottom of the net.
In his rookie season, Marshall shot 31.5 percent on three-pointers. Without getting too statistically involved, that percentage is nothing to brag about and probably something to leave off the resume. Although Marshall’s rookie struggles were not limited to long-range shooting, that poor form from distance did not help his cause of staying in the NBA.
Once in the D-League, Marshall regained his confidence and shot 46.3 percent from behind the arc. However, defense in the D-League is weak, to say the least. Marshall’s play still required major adjustments upon returning to the NBA.
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After joining the Lakers, Marshall made a noticeable adjustment. He realized that he needed a bit more space and time to comfortably launch his unique three-point shot. So, he began to practice shooting from a few feet behind the arc. Unlike most players, who set up millimeters behind the three-point line, Marshall is often two to four feet behind the line.
When Marshall attempts a three-pointer, referees do not need to analyze to video tape to see whether his foot was on the line—often the line is out of frame.
“I know I need more time to get (the shot) off. So, I want to get as far away from my help defender as I can, so I can get my good seven seconds to get it off,” the 22-year-old explained after going three for three from downtown against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. “It just happened naturally. I just started inching away.”
Normally, taking a step back would make a long shot even more difficult. For Marshall, however, the extra time and space allowed him to flourish. Since joining the Lakers, Marshall has converted 44 of 89 three-pointers attempted. That gives the former University of Carolina Tar-Heel a 49.4 percent average on the season, even better than his percentage in the D-League. Incredibly, Marshall is more efficient from behind the arc than he is from the field overall.
Under the NBA’s rules, Marshall does not officially qualify to have his three-point field goal stats honored as a league leader until he has at least as many three-pointers made as the Lakers have games played. Marshall has made 44 three-pointers, and the Lakers have played 51 games. Currently, he is averaging 1.9 makes on 3.9 attempts per game.
If Marshall continues to shoot the same percentage and does not deviate from his three-pointers attempted and made, he should qualify to be included in the NBA league leaders on Feb. 26 at Memphis. Once qualified, Marshall would automatically become the best three-point percentage shooter in the NBA.
Currently, Kyle Korver leads the league, making 46.3 percent of his long-range efforts. With Marshall shooting 49.4 percent, even a slight drop in accuracy for the remainder of the season should officially give the 22-year-old his earned title of top three-point shooter in the league.
Incredibly, his secret to success was as simple as taking one step back.